Action-packed Westminster visit gives political insight

A mixed group of 15 Lower Sixth and Fourth Year pupils, each with a keen interest in Politics, International Relations and Law, were rewarded for an early start with an action-packed visit to Westminster.

Their first stop was the Foreign Office, where the group were able to quiz a diplomat on the opportunities and experiences of working in the interests of Britain at home and abroad. The pupils gained a valuable insight into the more traditional challenges facing diplomats alongside current threats like cybercrime and fake news.

Sixth Former Aidan Hall, who wants to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics at university, commented: “The opportunity to ask a diplomat about routes into the Foreign Office was helpful to me in terms of a career path I might like to pursue.”

A tour of the historic buildings included the Fox Room, from which the Raj was governed for almost 200 years; the Locarno Conference Room, where the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson holds press conferences and public engagements with foreign guests and the room where ambassadors meeting Boris Johnson wait, which contains one of the four remaining Enigma machines which were so influential to the outcome of the Second World War. There was even a glimpse across Downing Street directly into Number 10.

With the EU Withdrawal Bill on the agenda, the second stop on this busy schedule was the Houses of Parliament. An absorbing tour of the House of Lords, which concluded with the Speaker’s procession, was followed by an opportunity to watch Business Secretary Greg Clark and his team being quizzed by MPs in the Commons from the public gallery.

The pupils then had a chance to put pertinent questions to Mary Robinson, MP for Cheadle, whose office helped to facilitate our visit. A broad range of themes were covered in the questions, responded to openly by Mary, before she was summoned away by the division bell for the first of a busy two days of Brexit votes.

The final stop took the group to the Supreme Court, where an interactive session saw them asked to consider a number of challenging decisions on points of law from the perspectives of the Justices. Heated debate followed amongst the group as they grappled with the dilemmas faced in the highest court in the land, from the very seats in which the Justices hear evidence from appellants and respondents before reaching their judgements.

Lower Sixth pupil Megan Barton, who is interested in studying Law at university, said: “I really enjoyed discussing cases and considering different people’s opinions on this within our group. It is difficult to imagine removing feeling from decision making, but that is what the Justices have to do on a daily basis.”

The pupils returned northwards enthused at the end of an action-packed day and eager to find out more about Law, Politics and International Relations as areas for future study and employment.

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