University Canada West was honoured to host Lord David Blunkett as a guest speaker at their yearly conference. Taking place the week before the UK’s referendum on whether or not to remain in the European Union, Lord Blunkett explored why North Americans should care about Brexit, discussing the financial, economic and political factors at the centre of the issue.

Before introducing Lord Blunkett, Dr. Arthur Coren, President and Vice-Chancellor of UCW reflected on the progress UCW has made in recent years, saying: “Later this year UCW will celebrate its 12th anniversary, but it’s really been in the past 18 months, since we joined the Global University Systems network that UCW has experienced a true renaissance.”

Lord Blunkett has an extensive background, he represented the people of Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough for 28 years as a British member of Parliament and held several cabinet posts in former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government. He was also recently appointed as the chair of The University of Law.

During his talk, Lord Blunkett discussed the UK’s relationship with other countries across the world, and the effects that leaving the European Union would have on these relationships. He said: “There is a belief in Britain that we can simply withdraw from the European Union and renegotiate all our trading and economic agreements individually, bilaterally with countries across the world.”

“I think there’s a failure to appreciate the interrelationship of economies and trade, and the way in which others see the United Kingdom.”

Lord Blunkett went on to further explore the role of the United Kingdom within the EU, and the impact that leaving it could have for the future. He then took questions from the audience, before signing a partnership agreement between UCW and The University of Law.