Sam Bennett – Welsh Liberal Democrat List Candidate for the European Parliament elections 2019
Below is our candidate Q&A – we have approached all parties asking them to circulate our questions to candidates – you can see more replies and details on the election on Wrexham.com/european-elections-2019/ ! All answers are from the candidates and are unedited.
Q1 Are you able to tell us a little about who you are, and what skills you can bring to the MEP role?
I was born in Reading in 1990 and moved from Reading to Aberystwyth to study European Politics in 2008.
In 2012 I graduated from Aberystwyth University with a Masters in European Politics and moved to Brecon to work in Campaigns and Communications for the then leader and deputy leaders respectively Kirsty Williams AM and Roger Williams (then MP).
I was elected Chair of Welsh Young Liberals (then IR Cymru) and became its longest serving chair. During his tenure the Welsh Young Liberals successfully campaigned the Welsh Government to introduce a bus pass for young people.
In 2016 I moved to Swansea to work for Swansea University international development office, working to recruit international students, and support the exchange programmes specifically with Erasmus.
This later became a permanent role working for Swansea University Medical School in Marketing as Digital Lead for the School.
I’m a passionate Liberal, proud European and experienced campaigner. I’ve studied the EU for years and seen first-hand the benefits the EU brings our higher education sector.
I will use my skills to fight for Wales and Britain’s place in the EU and fight to ensure Wales enjoys the full benefits of the EU for as long as we remain members.
Q2 How did you vote in the EU membership referendum in 2016, and what are your thoughts on how the outcome of that vote have progressed?
I proudly voted to remain in 2016 and I have no doubts that I made the right choice. I’ve spent the months and years since June 2016 fighting for the people to be given the final say and the opportunity to choose an Exit from Brexit.
At first our campaign was ridiculed and dismissed, but a People’s Vote is now firmly in the political mainstream and close to becoming a reality.
Part of the reason a People’s Vote has become so popular is because Brexit has gone so badly since the referendum. Whether you voted leave or remain, no-one is arguing that Brexit is going well.
Brexit is truly a national embarrassment. It has damaged our relationship with our neighbours and our international standing. The chaos and crisis of Brexit shows no sign of ending soon.
So many of the promises made by the leave campaign were clearly undeliverable. As a result some of the highest profile Brexiteers like Boris Johnson, David Davis and Dominic Raab have resigned from Government to avoid taking responsibility for delivering on their promises to the British people.
Brexit has gone worse than even I could have predicted and we haven’t even left yet. The no deal Brexit endorsed by a shockingly high number of Brexiteers is nothing like what was promised in June 2016. Now we have a better idea of what Brexit actually means, we must give the people the final say and the opportunity to choose an Exit from Brexit.
Q3 If elected what do you see your role as MEP entailing?
Unfortunately, this depends a lot on how long I’d be an MEP for. Although if elected I fully intend to be an MEP for my full five-year term.
Your MEPs are your voice in the European Parliament. You should expect your MEPs you represent you as effectively in the European Parliament as you expect your MP to represent you in Westminster and your AMs to represent you in our National Assembly.
As your MEP I would use my voice and my vote to stand up for Wales’ best interests and ensure Wales is at the heart of Europe. I would campaign for Wales to continue to get valuable European funding and work to ensure this funding is spent in the most effective ways possible.
The past three years have shown me that part of the role of the MEP must involve educating constituents on the ways they benefit from being members of the EU, the way the EU works and ways they can affect EU decision making.
Q4 You are standing for the ‘Wales region’, how have you engaged with constituents to ensure you understand their issues to then represent them?
Myself and my fellow Welsh Liberal Democrat European candidates have been regularly out knocking on doors across Wales, starting conversations with prospective constituents and discussing the issues that matter to them.
From today until polling today I’ll continue to talk to voters about Europe and these vital elections. I’ll continue to write about the issues I care about and share my vision for Wales within Europe.
If we can’t speak in person throughout this campaign, contact me on social media and we can start a conversation.
Q5 What would be your personal priority if elected?
My priority is stopping Brexit. The Welsh Liberal Democrats have been clear for the past three years that we want to give the people the final say and the opportunity to choose an Exit from Brexit.
My personal priority would be securing a People’s Vote and ensuring we win that People’s Vote. Brexit will be devastating for Wales and the EU, there is nothing any Welsh MEP can do that will be more important or valuable than keeping Wales in the EU.
If we’re successful in keeping Wales in the EU, my priority as your MEP would be in ensuring communities across Wales benefit as much as possible from EU membership. I want to make sure Wales gets its share of European funding and that this funding is spent as effectively as possible.
I want to make sure the Welsh people fully understand and take advantage of all the opportunities the EU gives them, from freedom of movement to improved security to access to vital markets in the EU and beyond.
Q6 Wrexham / Deeside are in the north east of Wales, what are the key issues relevant to your possible position as MEP, and what will you do about them?
Clearly, with Airbus such an important and substantial employer in Broughton and the wider area; the economy has to be one of the key issues. Airbus have been consistently clear about the extensive damage Brexit and a hard Brexit in particular would do to their operations in Wales and the EU.
Airbus are particularly vulnerable to Brexit because of the cross-border supply chains involved in aircraft production. But there are many other companies and industries located in North East Wales and Deeside in particular that rely on EU membership for export markets, supply chains and access to skilled labour.
However, there are a host of other key issues relevant to Wrexham and Deeside that I would have to address as an MEP. Chief amongst these is climate change. I’m proud that Wales recently became one of the first countries in the world to declare a climate emergency. The Welsh Liberal Democrats have been proud to make tackling climate change and creating a green Welsh economy one of our priorities.
Climate change doesn’t respect borders and so we must tackle climate change through international action. The EU has always played a crucial role in combatting climate change, this must continue. As your MEP I would fight for the EU to continue to lead the way on the international stage in protecting our natural environment and preventing catastrophic climate change.
Q7 You are standing to be part of something Wales on the whole, and Wrexham and Deeside also voted to leave, were the majority of those who voted wrong?
No-one’s vote can be wrong in an election. A vote is a sincere and personal expression of an individual’s values, beliefs and preferences. We would never claim that the majority who voted to leave were wrong.
What we do say is that those who voted both leave and remain in 2016 couldn’t possible have known exactly what Brexit entailed, because no-one said what Brexit meant and we didn’t know what deal we’d get with the EU.
We think that now we have a concrete deal on the table and the Welsh people know exactly what Brexit means in practice we should ask people if Brexit is still what they want.
Everyone who voted leave in 2016 would have the opportunity to vote to leave again if they still want to do so. But if any leave voters have changed their mind in the past three years, they should have the opportunity to express that at the ballot box.
Democracy is a process, not an event and a democracy that cannot change it’s mind is no democracy at all. Those who support Brexit and think the Welsh people support Brexit should have no problem asking the Welsh people if they still want Brexit.
For three years we’ve called for the people to be given the final say and the opportunity to choose an Exit from Brexit. We’re not about to stop now.
Q8 Turnout is notoriously low in EU elections anyway, why should people vote in these elections?
We passionately believe everyone should vote in any election in which they can. The right to vote was hard-fought for many. Whatever your beliefs, your vote is your ability to hold the powerful to account and make your values known. If you don’t use your vote, others will and their voices will be heard, not yours.
Its particularly important people vote in these European elections. These elections take place at a historic time in Wales and UK’s future and a pivotal time in the UKs relationship with the EU.
These European elections are your chance to choose the politicians that may represent you for the next five years. This is your chance to select who you want to make laws on your behalf and hold European leaders to account.
These elections are also a historic opportunity to make your views on Brexit clear before this process is over. If like us you want the UK to stop Brexit, vote for the Welsh Liberal Democrats to send a clear signal and give the People’s Vote campaign even more momentum. We can stop Brexit, but we need you to vote for us in these European elections if we are to do so.
Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email News@Wrexham.com