Bournemouth MP Conor Burns exclusively talks to The Rock about his role in government, the student vote and the looming presence of UKIP.
Mr Burns visited Bournemouth University last week to talk to students and was even persuaded to take his first selfie.
He said: “I think in the time I have been MP I have been very engaged with the university and the student population. I am here to represent you.”
Mr Burns has been the Conservative Member of Parliament for Bournemouth West for four years and in that time he has been involved in many University activities including this year’s Fresher’s Fair and taking time out to talk to journalism students.
Mr Burns has campaigned in parliament to extend and protect student visas; this is a subject close to his heart as Bournemouth has many international students attending the University and has one of the biggest language school sectors in Britain.
Mr Burns said he was “enormously proud of that.”
He added: “We have visitors from all over the world who come here to learn English and the government was closing down that route for these people.”
One of the biggest issues for students today is tuition fees and the challenge they face after leaving university as they get jobs and pay off the fees.
Mr Burns was never committed to lowering tuition fees as he feared that if the Tories got into government, they would have to reverse it.
He said: “I will tell the truth as I see it and I believe young people are mature and sensible and will see through any sort of bribery.
“I hope they respond more to an honest candidate rather than someone that is going for a round of applause at the end of a sentence.”
Mr Burns couldn’t avoid discussing the rapid emergence of UKIP. After winning their first seat in the House of Commons in the Clacton by-election Nigel Farage’s party has been making headlines across Britain.
Mr Burns said: “UKIP is the party that’s against everything. It’s against immigration, it’s against gay marriage, and it’s really against Britain in the modern world.”
Although he shares their concern over uncontrolled immigration, he disagrees with them regarding their stance on same sex marriage.
Mr Burns said as a gay man he would vote for what he thought was right.
He still felt conflicted in the vote, however, as many of his constituents in Bournemouth were firmly against the legislation. But he was supportive of it.
He conceded that he may have lost a few votes in the upcoming 2015 UK election as a result of his decision.
He said: “I decided to use my gut instinct and my judgement to vote for same sex marriage.
“I would rather do what I think is right than pander to a minority.”