ELECTION candidates clashed over their views on Brexit at an Oxford East hustings.

In the two-hour debate, hosted by Oxford for Europe, they discussed how leaving the European Union could affect the constituency and whether last year's referendum vote could be reversed.

The event in the Cowley Road Methodist Church attracted about 100 people.

All candidates for the Oxford East constituency attended, except Conservative Suzanne Bartington.

At one point rivals locked horns over the fate of thousands of scientists working at the Culham science campus on the JET nuclear fusion project.

The Government has stated its intention to quit the European nuclear-co-operation body, Euratom, which critics fear could throw the UK's nuclear industry into disarray.

A lack of guarantees about the resident status of foreign EU nationals – including many who work in top Oxfordshire research facilities – has also sparked concern.

Liberal Democrat candidate Kirsten Johnson told the hustings: "It is not as straightforward as simply leaving Euratom, and I think the Conservatives are trying to pull a fast one.

"The implications are huge and would come at the same time we are trying to build new nuclear reactors.

"We also only get to host the JET project because we are in Euratom, you can't just gloss over that."

Larry Sanders, standing for the Green Party, said: "There is something particularly peculiar about the Government's decision.

"Euratom is not directly linked to the EU but anything that is perceived to be linked to the European Court of Justice has to go.

"Actually the work in Culham is all about achieving fusion power, one of the good parts of the nuclear industry."

Labour's Anneliese Dodds, also an MEP for the South East, said she had been lobbying government ministers about the issue.

She added: "I have to say, on this issue and many others, I feel Theresa May and the Conservatives have simply not grasped the impact this will have.

"Membership of Euratom really does not compromise our sovereignty."

Independent Chaka Artwell said: "We are leaving nuclear waste for future generations to clear up. I would like to stop this kind of stuff until we are wise enough to deal with such things."

There was also a lively debate about whether the Brexit referendum result last year should be respected or whether voters should be allowed to change their minds.

Lib Dem Ms Johnson said the public should be able to vote again on the final deal offered by Brussels – with the option of staying in kept open at the end.

Mr Sanders said the Green Party also agreed with this, but Ms Dodds and Mr Artwell said the result last June 'should be respected'.

The referendum result was partly down to voters wanting to 'kick the political establishment', Ms Dodds added.

She said: "I campaigned for Remain on the basis that we told people this was a really important one-off decision that they should really think about... so to go back on that would be hypocritical."

Oxford for Europe is due to hold another hustings event for Oxford West and Abingdon in Exeter Hall, Kidlington, from 7pm to 9pm on Wednesday, May 24.