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Summary

  1. The panel - Leave and Remain - respond to audience questions
  2. Question 1: 'Does the Leave campaign have a racist undertone?'
  3. Question 2: 'Under Brexit, how attractive is the West Midlands for foreign investment?'
  4. Question 3: 'How will working people be affected, whatever the decision?'
  5. Question 4: 'Why doesn't Remain understand strength of feeling over self-governance?'

Live Reporting

By Vanessa Pearce

All times stated are UK

That's all folks

If you want to watch the programme again in full, you can catch it on the iPlayer.

Use the BBC's Reality Check website to find out the arguments from both sides on a range of key topics. You can find it here.   

Our coverage of the EU referendum continues next week on Midlands Today when our Politics Editor, Patrick Burns, takes a "referendum road-trip", meeting the decision-makers - that's you. 

'Passionate' debate

Well that was lively. We've had frogs, fishing and ruffled feathers.

Mary signs off, noting a "heated and passionate" debate. Thanking the panel and audience, she has the reminder that the debate continues on social media, using #EUrefmids.

'Our freedom is not for sale'

Bill Etheridge MEP says Remain's contention that Britain's vitality would be at risk post-Brexit is an insult to the nation. He says "shame on" those who imply Britain is a "small irrelevant country".

Looking for a soundbite he hopes is strong enough to end the night, he says: "Our freedom is not for sale."

Watch: Gisela Stuart on referendum's importance to 'next generation'

The Chair of Vote Leave, Gisela Stuart, says you should be able to "remove those politicians who make decisions on your behalf". 

MP Gisela Stuart calls for voting change during BBC Midlands Today EU referendum debate

Referendum is a 'once in a lifetime chance'

We're approaching the end of the programme and the debate has turned to the question of self-governance. The audience member who asked the question suggests this is about people's gut reactions and it's at the core of the debate; something, he says, Remain hasn't fully grasped.

Harriett Baldwin says the single market is valuable for West Midlands jobs, then echoes an earlier point from Tristram Hunt, saying Britain must retain its "seat at the table". Referencing the question, she maintains we are "democratically engaged" -  an assessment that is met with heckles from the audience.

Harriet Baldwin
BBC

But Gisela Stuart is not having it and "does not accept there is a trade off between trade and democracy".

She brands the referendum a "once-in-a-lifetime" chance for the next generation", adding: "You should be able to remove politicians who make decisions on your behalf and at the moment, you can't do that [in the EU]".

Tweet: 'Tristram talking nonsense'

Audience question: Brexiteers are 'not little Englanders'

The last question of the night comes from Mark Taylor in the Leave camp,  who would like to know why the Remain campaign "doesn't seem to understand the strength of feeling of those who simply want self governance returned to the UK". 

"[Leave] are not Little Englanders", he said, but "rational, reasonable folk who do not wish to be governed by European directives".

Mark Taylor
BBC

Lord Jones won't dance to status quo's beat

Mr Wouhra - for Remain - is speaking about people coming in from Europe to fill the skills gap. Lord Jones - for the other side - is interested in the point, and begins to speak about this being "Asia's century".

But it doesn't get the chance to go anywhere as he wants to shut down an interrupting Tristram Hunt - ding ding, round two. "For once," Lord Jones says to the Labour MP, "engage your brain before opening [your mouth] please." 

Lord Digby Jones
BBC

When he feels he has the floor again, Lord Jones continues. "The challenge before all of us is we have to fashion our economy so our grandchildren have healthcare, welfare and pensions that the economy can afford."

He says both sides have good arguments as to how to achieve this. But he warns: "The status quo will not deliver it for anybody and you [Remain] want the status quo."

Mr Hunt says leaving is "not a risk worth taking". It is, he thinks, an economic "walk into the unknown".

Etheridge on 'white van man'

Gisela Stuart speaks of the potential for cheap labour to impact on jobs, while Harriett Baldwin says remaining amounts to jobs, and that's what gives "working people opportunities".

But it's MEP Bill Etheridge who rounds off this question, saying that for the working classes, continued membership of the EU has brought "zero hours contracts, part-time working, new jobs being taken from new people coming to the country".

"If you're a classic white van man in this country", he continues, "you'll find your wages have been depressed because there's a massive over-supply of people to do the jobs".

"The only people benefiting from this set-up are corporations, big bankers and big business". 

Bill Etheredge
BBC

Hunt warns of 'DIY recession'

On the working people question, Tristram Hunt says his constituents in Stoke, citing those in ceramics in particular, are "heavily dependent on the European Union for business". 

He thinks those who want to leave are walking towards a "DIY recession". 

"The ceramics industry in Stoke exports 50% of ceramics to Europe and if we turn our back on that single market that would hurt the standard of living." He thinks, then, that his constituents are, dare we say it, china in the hand of pro-Brexiteers.

He adds that the only way we can enjoy EU reform is to have "British leadership at the table" - you can't negotiate when you don't take part, he believes. 

Tristram Hunt
BBC

Tweet: 'Digby is just shouting'

Audience question turns to working people

Tony Middleton asks a question which receives the biggest cheer of the night so far.

He wants to know how working class people will benefit by being in or out. Higher pensions? Lower food prices?

Tony Middleton
BBC

Watch: Harriett Baldwin MP warns of 'leap in the dark'

Harriett Baldwin says a Remain vote is vitally important for business in the West Midlands. 

'I want my children's future protected'

An audience member is agitated by the heckle. She's with the argument presented by Mr Hunt.

She says she can't afford to wait and see how Brexit turns out. She says she wants her children's future protected and that's why she's Remain.

'Project fear'

Tristram Hunt says he's worried that a Brexit means foreign investors in his constituency would relocate, moving abroad.

He is heckled with "project fear".

Chair of Vote Leave issues warning over Brussels power

"If we vote to remain", warns Leave chair Gisela Stuart, "foreign direct investment, the powers for the decision-making will go to Brussels".  

"This is about taking control".

Gisela Stuart
BBC

Tweet: 'Is it racist to vote for Brexit?'

Baldwin: 'Leap in the dark'

The answers to the second question of the night begin:

According to treasury minister Harriett Baldwin, three-quarters of the foreign business investors in the West Midlands cite membership of the single market as being "one of the attractions of basing themselves and creating jobs here".

"If we put up a sign and say I'm sorry we're really not sure what the leap in the dark these guys want to take us on is, then businesses aren't going to wait around."

Harriett Baldwin
BBC

WATCH: Heated exchange between Lord Jones and Tristram Hunt MP

If things weren't hot enough already under the studio lights, the temperature has soon soared.

Lord Digby Jones and Tristram Hunt clash during BBC Midlands Today debate

Another question from the audience

Moving on to the economy now and Jas Sansi from Birmingham asks: "Will the Midlands be a more or less attractive option for foreign investment in the event of Brexit?"

Jan Sansi
BBC

#EUrefmids

We'll be featuring some of your tweets this evening... Why not join in the debate?

'Go fish' - not an insult for the other side, but Leave's workforce metaphor

On the question of immigrant labour, regional chair of the IoD and local businessman Jason Wouhra says a Brexit would make it "difficult to get certain skills that we might be lacking".

Lord Jones has this to say when it comes to workforce: "I want to be able to fish in a reservoir of 100% of the world." He thinks remaining has us "locked into something where we're only fishing from 50%".

Fisherman
Getty Images

Lord Jones to Hunt: Row rumbles on

They're not done yet... Lord Jones says of Mr Hunt "the pomposity of this politician is beyond me".

Then he accuses him of "peddling 'maybes' as facts".

No prisoners are being taken. Has the debate started as it means to go on?

Lord Jones and Tristram Hunt
BBC

Lord Jones to Hunt: 'You're lying'

Well, that first question has clearly got under the skin of the panel - there's been quite the feisty exchange between Lord Jones and Tristram Hunt. Things are getting heated.

So what's the issue? Norway... well, sort of.

The former front bencher - who doesn't think concern over immigration amounts to racism - is worried about the ease with which Britain could trade with Europe after a Brexit. We would, he says, have to accept free movement of labour while having no say over the impact. That, he thinks, would make us like Norway - "we will pay and have no say".

But this annoys Lord Jones who accuses him of lying. He wonders what Mr Hunt might say next: "Death of first borns next week and a plague of frogs the week after?"

Frogs
BBC

Remain takes up the immigration issue

Harriett Baldwin speaks next and says the Brexit side is effectively putting forward an "Australian points-based system, which actually leads to twice the level of immigration".

After that, she makes it about economics; a topic that Mary says we'll come to later. But Harriett manages to say that the way to ensure economic strength is to avoid the "massive economic shock" that a Brexit would cause.

The audience tries a different tactic to limit the length of her comments, crying "nonsense".

Harriett Baldwin MP
bbc

Etheridge says it's about 'managing' immigration

UKIP MEP Bill Etheridge is the first to take up the question over immigration and says "let's get this one out the way".

He says the campaign to leave the EU "does not suggest that we dislike immigration or immigrants".

He said: "All we're talking about is managing the situation."

Bill Etheridge
BBC

First audience question

The first question is in and there's no messing about with this one.

Audience member Nicholas Leach from Lichfield sets us off.

He starts by saying that immigrants contribute more than they receive overall, and then has this to say, drawing groans of dismay from Leave: "So by using immigration to frighten people to vote out, is there a racist undertone to the Leave campaign?"

This is a lively start.

Audience member asking question
BBC

Mary Rhodes is your host

Mary Rhodes is your host and will preside over the panel.

The studio audience is "split right down the middle", she says, before reminding you how to get involved on social media - use #EUrefmids.

We smell a question coming on.... Any ideas what the first topic will be?

Mary Rhodes fronting EU debate
BBC

And for Remain...

On the side of Remain tonight are:

- Tristram Hunt is a former frontbencher and currently Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central, as well as being a historian, writer and presenter.  

- Jason Wouhra is regional chairman of the Institute of Directors and heads up his family business East End Foods, which has an annual turnover in excess of £180m.

- Conservative MP for West Worcestershire, Harriett Baldwin, was appointed Economic Secretary to the Treasury last year. 

Tristram Hunt, Jason Wouhra, Harriett Baldwin
BBC

Welcome to our panel

Representing Vote Leave tonight are:

- UKIP MEP for the West Midlands, Bill Etheridge. He was elected in 2014 and sits on the EU Regional Development Committee.

- Labour MP Gisela Stuart is chair of the Vote Leave campaign. She has represented the Birmingham constituency of Edgbaston since 1997.

- Former trade minister and head of the CBI, Lord Digby Jones, sits as a crossbencher in the House of Lords.

Bill Etheridge, Gisela Stuart, Lord Digby Jones
BBC

Choc tactics

Feeling peckish this Sunday evening? I wonder how many of you turn to chocolate when tummies rumble - there's just enough time before the programme starts.

But what does the EU mean for a sweet tooth? Here's a feature on chocolate and the rules affecting its taste - including the view from Cadbury in Birmingham.

Chocolate bar
Getty Images

Better In or Out? A BBC Midlands Today referendum special

Vanessa Pearce

BBC Local Live

Good evening and welcome to our coverage of Midlands Today's EU referendum debate.

The programme begins on BBC One at 22:35 and we'll keep you updated with the arguments of both sides, Leave and Remain, and what the issues mean for us here in the Midlands.

I'll shortly be bringing you details of the panel and also point you to content across the BBC's website.