Roar interviews Philip Brenninkmeyer, a student who took part in the Politics society annual debate between different Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour societies at King’s. He represented Conservatives and has agreed to be interviewed in order to elaborate on his personal views on these topics. We discuss previously debated topics including mental health, Covid-19 and foreign policy.
Roar: Firstly, what do you think the government should focus on moving forwards with Brexit? Furthermore, what do you think about the UK’s talks with other governments in order to negotiate trade deals?
Philip: We are in the last stage, so I think the top priority now is to find a way to get past the last hurdle. I think the question we have to ask ourselves is, you know, we don’t know exactly what is going to happen within the next 20 years. There’s always changes. History, economic systems always change. That is always going to continue happening. What it really comes down to is what happens after Brexit. Absolutely, the UK is going to get a ton of deals and the reason why is because there’s only one group that’s in any way interested in punishing the UK, and that’s the EU which I can understand why. Our advantage now is that we can quickly sign deals with lots of countries, I think that’s going to happen as well. We don’t need a bunch of other countries to agree.
R: During the debate, the internal market bill was referenced by a fellow conservative as a negotiating chip, do you agree with this statement?
P: There are, let’s say, a couple of 1000 things from the UK and a couple of 1000 things from the EU that they can change to make the deal more or less attractive in relation to one another, and absolutely internal markets is part of that negotiation. It’s not as simple as just a negotiating chip, because that would be oversimplifying how important that bill is, and how important negotiation is. What it really comes down to is it is a part of the negotiation. It always was, it always will be. When you negotiate between two countries, there are no rules really in a sense. Anything is on the table and that includes you know, everything be it provisioned internal market bills, but that doesn’t mean that in this case they’re breaking international law, right? The whole deal is going to come down to about 100 things and it’s going to be a question of how close together those on the two sides can come to an agreement.
R: Mental health has been one of the unexpected areas where the virus has taken a huge toll on people. Do you think the government is doing enough? Or is there still a way to go?
P: There’s very clear evidence that mental health is a massive issue that is affecting people. If you look at the statistics, especially on young people, coronavirus will kill significantly fewer people under the age of 25 this year, by all measures, than suicide will. For many people, it is a year’s long battle, a lifelong battle, and this situation is going to make it worse, so it requires more support. I think, generally speaking, the UK needs more support for mental health even if coronavirus were not an issue. Yeah, I don’t think King’s is doing enough to protect the mental health of students. I go as far as to say that I think that they have been lacking in that area quite significantly and that King’s specifically needs to do more to think about the mental health of its students. It has a responsibility to do that.
R: Talking Covid-19 and students, what do you think about the current plan for the winter holidays?
P: I think what the UK should be doing is the same thing as almost every other major European country, and I don’t know why we’re not doing it now and it’s quite silly. We need to be testing people at the airport. People don’t want to quarantine for two weeks if they know that they’re healthy, what we’re not doing right is this blanket quarantining for everyone. We should be testing everyone and then wait for a negative test result. If they don’t want to get tested, they quarantine for two weeks. If they get tested, once the test result is negative, they don’t have to quarantine. If it is positive, they keep the entire quarantine. By the way, once you do this, I’m pretty sure we’ll see more people sticking to the quarantine.