Labour MEP gets quizzing as students hold Question Time-style event

Jude Kirton-Darling, right, with students Megan Goodlad, 17, and Drue Walsh, 18.
Jude Kirton-Darling, right, with students Megan Goodlad, 17, and Drue Walsh, 18.

STUDENTS in South Tyneside put a Euro MP through her own Question Time.

Jude Kirton-Darling MEP is one of three politicians representing the North East of England in Europe, and was the subject of a 90-minute questions and answers session by teenagers at South Tyneside College.

About a dozen BTEC Level 3 public uniformed services learners quizzed her on how she became an MEP, and how much the UK gains from being in the EU.

To other questions, she claimed the biggest issue facing Europe was the terms of a possible major trade deal with the US, and admitted the EU – or NATO – was unlikely to take military action against Russia over Ukraine.

Ms Kirton-Darling, 37, who in May was elected one of Labour’s two North East MEPs, said her job was “exciting”, but admitted much time was lost on the impractical and costly habit of Europe moving between parliaments in Brussels and Strasbourg.

The MEP, who sits on the EU’s Committee on International Trade, said: “It was great to be at South Tyneside College and they were a fantastic bunch of students.

“It’s a priority for me to get out and about in the region and it was good to be questioned by the students.

“There were definitely some future Paxmans in the group.”

She was invited to the college’s Westoe campus, in St George’s Avenue, South Shields, to help students whose course provides training in the skills for work in the military, police, and fire and prison services.

Study areas include the work of the European Parliament, the policies of British political parties and the Government, and voting systems.

Students also learn teamwork, leadership, problem solving, communication skills, and fitness and physical preparation.

Public Service tutor Mick O’Reilly said he hoped the visit would add to their ability to approach subjects in a reasoned way and to make their own decision and choices.

He added: “I asked them what they were interested in and what they wanted to ask.

“Things like what is happening in Ukraine does play on their minds.

“It was good to get some facts on that and other issues.

“I was very impressed by their mature attitude and by the questions they asked, a lot of thought went into them.

“I was also very impressed by Jude, who was friendly and down to earth, but at the same time good at putting her point across on issues tied to Europe. She had excellent people skills.

“We now plan to invite a speaker from another political party, so that the students get a balance of opinion.”

For more information on public uniformed services courses, call 427 3500 or visit www.stc.ac.uk

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