TAUNTON's Brewhouse Theatre was the setting for some heated political debate about the upcoming EU referendum.

Taunton Deane MP Rebecca Pow chaired the debate and panellists included UKIP MEP for the South West, Dr Julia Reid, and Vote Leave campaigner Giuseppe Franschini pitted against former Conservative Secretary of State for the Environment Lord Deben and Chris Ormrod, chief executive at Taunton-based Ministry of Cake.

Monday evening's debate was varied with questions from the audience covering topics on trade, immigration and farming and more.

Each panellist was also given five minutes to talk about their key reasons for wanting to either remain or leave.

"I have been a Eurosceptic since I was 14, and I campaigned for a not vote in the 1975 referendum," Dr Reid said. "What we were promised then no longer exists, it is not just a trading bloc, it is a political union, there are 28 countries instead of 9, and the veto we were promised has disappeared.

She said the EU is likely to expand with a number of countries being considered for membership. "A vote to stay is not a vote for the status quo."

Lord Deben argued that the UK is in a far stronger position to negotiate as a market of 500 million people rather than one of 65 million.

"If you look at the people who want us to stay it includes the rest of Europe, most of the commonwealth, the President of the United States while people who want us to stay, meanwhile Putin wants us to leave," Lord Deben said.

Mr Franschini said: "Despite what the remain campaign say, this vote is not just about the economy. Trade deals do not require an army and a president.

"All the experts who say we would be worse if we leave, are many of the same experts who said we should join the Euro, are many of the same experts who did not foresee the recession in 2008."

Mr Ormrod said having evaluated the options with his board, staying in the EU was best for his business.

"Many of our products use additives and stabilisers which are often referred to as E numbers. These allow us to send our cakes across Europe because we have agreed the same standards, and within the EU our products can be delivered quickly.

"Leaving the EU may well affect the price we have to pay for one of our key ingredients, sugar," he said.

The evening's proceedings became heated toward the end as Lord Deben, who had arrived late, had to leave to catch a train as the meeting had overran.

A disgruntled member of the audience shouted that Lord Deben was doing a 'disservice to democracy', however the Conservative peer retorted that he had come to Taunton to participate at his own expense and had been told the meeting would be over by 8pm, before adding: "I have noticed people who seem to dislike the EU have a degree of anger."

As Rebecca Pow closed the debate, she implored on voters to think about peace, prosperity and human rights issues as they head to the polling stations