Semi Essessi, Independent Candidate standing in Guildford:
I take most seriously your suggestions, especially since they broadly echo the local sentiment on these issues.
To directly address your points.
- The removal of international students from official net migration figures.
I agree with this sentiment, although I would also be willing to support anything that helps to improve clarity here.
- The guaranteed continuation of home-rate tuition fees and visa-free access for EU students as part of a reciprocal agreement.
I am happy to support this, however, it must be balanced against the desires of the EU itself. Any solution here would require EU cooperation – it might be out of our hands.
- The guaranteed right to stay for EU staff and students who currently reside or study in the UK, with freedom of movement unrestricted for those who come to work or study from the EU.
I will extend my existing policy on this to cover students – the same arguments apply as for workers. There is very strong local support for this.
- Extending the franchise to EU nationals residing in Britain to vote in National Elections.
I strongly support this idea already, although I have failed to find time to mention it. There is something inherently wrong when people who live in a place have no say in how it is run. We already do this for council elections. The same arguments apply to parliament as they do to local council.
- The securing of alternative sources of university funding other than raised tuition fees.
I strongly believe that the only practical way to get rid of tuition fees, without jeopardising existing funding, is to address the budget deficit with a more modern, incremental approach. It is an optimisation problem and we have a huge mathematical toolbox for tackling such problems, which parliament and its advisers seem to be quite unaware of given their ideological and simplistic stances on this.
- The continued support of Erasmus+ and other EU research funding.
I find this difficult to support, and unlikely to come to fruition without motivation on the other side. It would very clearly be in our best interest – but its clearly not in the interest of the EU itself.
I am very willing to be convinced if there is a stronger case to be made for how this will benefit the EU, and I see no reason to oppose it.
- The continued protection of the employment rights currently provided by EU law.
I would sincerely hope in the wake of Brexit that our parliament would do this anyway, with some hope that they might go even further and strengthen the rights of UK workers even further.
Bear in mind that my positions is always open to change. I refuse to commit to policy absolutely up-front when we never know how the situation or prevailing opinion will be at the time it needs to be acted upon.