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College tour and student Q&A session for new MP

Politics students grilled Hornchurch & Upminster MP Julia Lopez on issues close to their hearts when she visited College on Friday 17th November.

The lunchtime meeting gave the students the chance to talk with the new local Conservative MP and also ask questions on subjects such as the youth vote, housing for young people, education, Brexit, electoral reform and engaging teenagers to take an interest in political affairs.

After the Q&A session, Julia, aged 33, along with her parliamentary advisors, Joanna Thomas and Alex Stone, was taken on a tour of the College by Principal Paul Wakeling. She visited the Arts & Media Faculty, the new Wolfson state-of-the-art Chemistry labs and our award-winning careers area, the CUBE.

During her visit Paul impressed upon the MP how funding cuts by the Government to sixth form colleges was making it increasingly difficult to provide a first class education for young people. He asked for her backing in the national Support Our Sixth Formers Campaign ahead of the impending budget.

Students listened intently to Julia’s open answers to their questions and many said after the Q&A session that it had been useful and insightful.

In answer to a question on why the Tories lost out on the youth vote to Labour, Julia replied: “We have been debating this issue since the election. I am glad that young people have woken up and are exercising their right to vote. We are looking at where we went wrong and what we are going to do to fix it.”

One student suggested that young people should have a say in what they are taught at school and that the academic curriculum was now not so relevant.

Julia said: “I have found in Havering that young people are very politically aware and are articulate. I think we need a discussion on education and the subjects that the current curriculum provides. Things like money management, what a mortgage is, how to run a household on a budget, how to set up banking and generally the management of life are all very important.”

She added that she felt optimistic on how Britain would go forward after Brexit. She said: “We want a country that is nationally dynamic, welcoming to people with open trading. We don’t want division. Once a deal is done, we can start a new chapter where we won’t be a member of the EU but we will still have good relations with other countries.”

Asked about what she hopes to achieve as an MP, Julia said: “I want to make being a Conservative in the modern world relevant to young people. The Conservative aspiration of you work hard and do the right thing and you will get on in life is something I believe in. But you must be willing to do things you are afraid of. Life opens up and opportunities present themselves and you should take those opportunities – don’t be frightened.

“I want to make Britain feel confident with what it is now, welcoming of difference, using new technology to our advantage, engaging people of all ages and from all places. Britain has a lot to offer – we need to be more optimistic and lift the gloom because there’s a lot that’s great about our country and the more young people I meet, such as yourselves today, the more positive I feel about that.”

Pictured are A Level Government & Politics students in the lunchtime meeting, Julia on a tour of the College with Principal Paul Wakeling and, outside the front of the College: Advisor Alex Stone, College Student Council rep Ridima Thapa, Advisor Joanna Thomas, MP Julia Lopez, Paul Wakeling and Student Council rep Akintayo Akinwunmi.