May and Corbyn Question Time to be held on campus

(Credit: David Williamson)

A Question Time special this Friday featuring the Prime Minister, Theresa May and the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, will be held on campus, in the Ron Cooke Hub,  York Vision can reveal.

The University has formally announced today (1st June) that the event will be held on campus. York’s Vice-Chancellor, Koen Lamberts said in a statement: “We are delighted to be hosting Question Time from the Ron Cooke hub, a fabulous state-of-the-art building designed to encourage discussion and interaction.

“With just days to go before polling day, the eyes of the country will be on the two leaders here at York.

“It promises to be a fascinating encounter in what could be one of the defining moments of the general election.”

Students have been emailed that due to the debate taking place on campus on Friday, they are required to carry their student card with them at all times. The email also adds that the Ron Cooke Hub will be closed to students screening from 6am Friday 2nd June to 2am 3rd June.

The email also advises students not to “engage in activities which will draw unwanted attention from security”.

In addition, First Bus services have announced the closure of Lakeside Way, which Ron Cooke Hub is situated on, from 6pm on Friday evening, affecting both the 66 and UB1 services.

A peaceful protest for the event has already been planned, with local group York’s People’s Assembly organising a demonstration outside of the screening. A Facebook event created by the group has promised: “A big, inclusive gathering of opposition to Weak And Wobbly Theresa May. Last time she visited, she snuck in to speak with a few party mates – this time we’ve got warning, so lets [sic] get ready!”

At the time of writing, around 40 have promised to attend, with an additional 90 marking themselves as having an interest on the Facebook event. The organiser of the demonstration, Graham Martin, declined to divulge who leaked news of the venue to the group. However, he told Vision: “In light of recent events, security will naturally be tight, but we don’t defeat terror with silence. Let’s come together and show York’s values as a city of people who look out for each other and, as a Human Rights City, values equality and free speech.”

North Yorkshire Police released a statement today (1st June) warning that “We will deal with anyone intent on disorder or criminality”.  The police force has reassured the public that “As ever, the police will be on hand to facilitate peaceful protest”, however, they have promised to deal with any disorderly or criminal behaviour “in a proportionate and justified manner”.

The press release adds: “We are committed to ensuring a safe and secure event for all those who attend, as well as minimising any disruption to the wider public.”

“To provide extra public reassurance, North Yorkshire Police will have a significant number of officers on duty in the York area during the event.”

The party leaders will face a series of consecutive audience questions, but will not debate head-to-head. This follows the same format as Question Time election debates screened in 2015 at the last General Election.

Question Time has previously been held in the Ron Cooke Hub in 2013, with guests Micheal Gove and Emily Thornberry. The flagship political show was also due to be held in the Ron Cooke Hub in June 2016. However, the show was cancelled following the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox.

Students can apply to be in the Question Time audience for the May and Corbyn special by filling out a form here. The event will be shown live on BBC 1 from 8:30pm – 10:00.

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