Brexit was firmly on the agenda as former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan came to John Lyon to speak to students about the state of UK politics and what it means for the younger generation.
Speaking to Year 10 and Year 12 students on Thursday 6th June 2019, and hosted by John Lyon’s incoming Head Boy Husain Abedi, The Right Honourable Nicky Morgan MP, Chair of the Treasury Select Committee, spoke about her role within parliament, before taking questions.
With Brexit the main theme of the talk, she told students: “You are certainly living through a very interesting political time… Many things we thought we knew about UK politics are certainly being tested… It is very possible that we are going to see a very different political system and also party system in the course of the next few years.
“Brexit has absolutely put a rocket under the UK political system.”
Known as a centrist within the Conservative party, Mrs Morgan spoke of the rise of populism with politicians like Donald Trump and Nigel Farage, poliarisation which had grown in the past three years, and how this had led to more extreme views and people making quick judgement and seeking simple answers to complex problems.
Despite the uncertainties and divisions over Brexit, Mrs Morgan spoke of the importance of young people exercising their democratic rights and being heard: “It’s really important that you as a generation have a view on things and have a voice and make sure you engage”.
In her speech and during questions, Ms Morgan spoke on a number of topics, including the NHS and British Steel, as well as on a range of other areas.
Technology and social media: “It’s a much more direct process. And that’s good in many ways. It means that as a member of parliament I am much more aware of what my constituents are thinking but also provides challenges as well. 140 characters or 280 characters don’t allow for terribly sophisticated debate.”
The Conservative Party’s appeal: “My party has a problem with young people”.
Diversity within Westminster: “Parliament has got to look like the country we aspire to represent.”
The Conservative Party leadership race and her support of Michael Gove: “It seems likely that Boris Johnson will be in the final two, and I think that Michael Gove has the best chance of beating him… Boris is perfectly likable but I don’t think he did a good job as Foreign Secretary.”
The idea of blocking parliament from stopping a no-deal EU withdrawal: “It is a real nuclear option… I talked about it being an interesting time, an extraordinary time in politics, that would be taking it up to a whole new level of extraordinariness”.
Speaking after Mrs Morgan’s visit, Head Boy elect Husain Abedi said: “I found the talk given by Mrs Morgan to be an interesting glimpse into the sentiments and attitudes in the House of Commons right now. Most people who I’ve talked to have developed an apathetic stance towards Westminster and politics at large, citing detachment and ineffectiveness as hallmarks of the current government and Parliament’s indecisiveness concerning Brexit. I therefore thought that the fact that boys were able to not only listen to a prominent MP but also ask questions about the Conservative leadership race, the NHS and British Steel to be not only an especially important experience for many in the room, but also an example of why our input is necessary and that our voices on key issues are being heard loud and clear, despite most people in the room being unable to vote.”
Nicky Morgan was speaking as part of the John Lyon Excellence Programme, which provides an opportunity for all boys, no matter their academic ability or age, to maximise their potential to learn and to discover their passion.