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Newark MP Robert Jenrick impressed by questions from school children on visit to Newark Academy

The MP for Newark Robert Jenrick was left impressed after he received an unexpected grilling from school children.

Mr Jenrick was visiting Newark Academy where he took the opportunity to engage with pupils who asked him a series of difficult questions on everything from immigration and housing, to how much MPs are paid and why people should care about politics.

It was a chance for the teenagers to engage with a politician and find out more about his role.

Newark MP Robert Jenrick addresses students at Newark Academy
Newark MP Robert Jenrick addresses students at Newark Academy

Speaking to the Advertiser, he said: “I thought there were some really good questions, they seemed to be very well informed which is great to see — you should never underestimate young people.

“I try to visit schools as often as I can because I believe MPs should be trying to engage with young people, listening to their views and make sure that they are represented.

“I was also very pleased to meet the leadership here at Newark Academy as well and see the continued progress that the school is making because it is clearly very good and highly respected in the community.”

Robert Jenrick MP pictured with Newark Academy pupils L-R Luke Robinson 13 and Reece Robinson 13
Robert Jenrick MP pictured with Newark Academy pupils L-R Luke Robinson 13 and Reece Robinson 13

Here are some of the questions put to Robert Jenrick by pupil and his answers:

Q - What is your opinion on higher taxes to provide better health and social care?

Mr Jenrick said: “I would like to live in a country where people are taxed less.

“I think if we tax too much it disincentivices people to go out and work or start businesses.

“There are issues facing our health system, but I don’t think those are primarily about money.

“I think we need to focus less on taxes and spending more, and instead spend more wisely.”

Q - What do you think of Newark?

“I love Newark, I think it has so much potential — but things could always be improved,” he said.

“There should be more opportunities for young people. I don’t think the only path in life should be going to university, there should be more apprenticeships and vocational work for school leavers.

“I want to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour, there are too many empty shops, we need more investment to make it a more vibrant place to visit, and I want more people living in the town centre too.”

Q - Why should we care about politics?

Mr Jenrick said: “Politics is important for a lot of things — it’s about the future of the country, the role that Britain plays overseas and in the world.

“The only way to have informed views is to engage with it, and the only way to change things is to get involved with politics.”

Q - Why are politicians paid so much?

“Well there are some people that think they aren’t paid enough,” said the Newark MP.

“MPs earn about £90,000 a year, which is almost three times the average wage in my constituency, but is similar to other professions such as head teachers and doctors.

“Some say that if you pay more, you get a better service because you can encourage smart and capable people, who could earn a lot of money elsewhere, into parliament where they can make policies — although it shouldn’t all just be about money.”

Q - What made you want to become a politician?

“I got into politics because I wanted to change things,” said Mr Jenrick

“I think there are two types of people in the world; those that shout about how bad everything is, but then there are people that decided they want to do something about it.

“Politics is a winding road, but I don’t think there is another job as impactful and rewarding as this.”

He added that his office offers work experience opportunities to young people interested in seeing the day to day life of a politician, as well as a chance to visit his offices in Westminster.

Q - Who was your favourite prime minister and who would you most be like if you were leader of your party?

With an awkward laugh, Mr Jenrick said: “Well Boris was the most fun and David Cameron was the most professional.

“Liz [Truss], although very brief, had the most sense of what she wanted to do, which I think is the best thing a politicians needs.

“I think I’d take parts of all of them.”

When asked if he’d like to become the leader of the Conservatives, he replied: “ Well, I’ve got to get re-elected first.”

Newark MP Robert Jenrick addresses students at Newark Academy
Newark MP Robert Jenrick addresses students at Newark Academy

Q - What is your opinion on housing?

“I think we should be building far more houses, or we will all face the consequences,” he said.

“You’re all going to find it incredibly difficult to buy a house in the future, and if you don’t buy it will be expensive to rent.

“Young people are spending 40% to 50% of their wages on rent and it should not be that way.

“All political parties have shied away from what needs to be done, and now it has come home to roost.

“There is not enough housing, homelessness is on the rise and house prices are increasing.

“So I am pro house building as a form of social justice.”

Q - What is your opinion on immigration to this country?

The former immigration minister said: “We have to grapple with this really complex issue.

“There is illegal migration, the people you see on the news crossing the English channel in small boats which is really dangerous and fuelled by smugglers and human-traffickers.

“We need to take the robust action and it’s only by doing that, that we can do things we want to do as a country such as welcoming genuine refugees.

“At the moment it’s very difficult to do that because we have some many people coming in illegally that we don’t have the capacity to house them all.”

Mr Jenrick went on to explain points he made in a recent viral video, posted to his social media accounts about immigration.

He claimed that in the 25 years leading to 1997 net migration was 68,000, but in the 25 years, after up to 2022, it was 5.9m — adding that the UK would supposedly need to build a city the size of Cardiff every year to meet immigration levels.

Q - What can be done about racism?

Mr Jenrick said: “I think we need to do more, but as a country we are quite good in comparison to elsewhere.

“I am particularly vocal about anti-semitism in parliament, but there is only so much we can do in government.

“It should be incumbent on all of us as individuals to change things, whether at school or in the community.”

If you had the chance to ask Robert Jenrick a question, what would you ask him? Let us know your thoughts.

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