COLCHESTER’S Conservative candidate accused opponents of attempting to do a “grubby deal” during a heated Question Time style debate in front of Colchester Sixth Form College students.

All four of the town’s candidates were grilled by young people over issues including climate change, public transport, education funding and Brexit at the event yesterday.

When tactical voting and proportional representation came up, Lib Dem Martin Goss revealed he had spoken to the Green’s Mark Goacher about whether he would step back from campaigning similar to arrangements made by the parties made elsewhere.

But Mr Goss said the discussions had not come to anything and would have had to be done via the party's head offices anyway.

Incumbent Conservative Will Quince fiercely hit out at the suggestion saying voters should have a full roster of candidates to choose from.

“I think it is a sad indictment of the political situation candidates are trying to do a grubby deal not to campaign,” he said.

Labour’s Tina McKay and Mr Goss also clashed on which was the best placed to beat the Tories.

The first question asked candidates what their party was planning to do to tackle climate.

Mr Goss said: "We want to halve emissions by 2030 and go carbon neutral by 2045.

"We will also invest to get rid of carbon and fossil fuels and put hundreds of millions of pounds into wind and wave power and invest in green energy."

Tina McKay said Labour would kick-start a "green industrial revolution" creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.

"It has to be an entire programme and we would be looking at making electric cars more available to people," she said.

"The bus and rail network would be brought under public ownership to get people out of cars."

Mr Goacher said: "We would invest £100 billion a year in our Green New Deal much of it in renewable energy paid for via a carbon tax."

Mr Quince said Britain need to continue to lead on the issue and put pressure on the world's biggest polluters such as the US and China.

One student asked the panel which party could be trusted on Brexit.

Labour’s Tina McKay said her party’s position was simple. Labour would have a new deal within six months and then put it to the public in a new referendum.

“We have been negotiating since 2016 so we know we can get a better deal, a deal which will protect workers rights and environmental standards.”

Mr Quince said December 12’s election was “all about Brexit”.

He added: “If you want to leave the EU with a deal then there is only one vote and it is for me and the Conservatives.”

Mr Goss sad the Lib Dems were the only party which had maintained a clear policy throughout the three year process.

“Article 50 will only be revoked if we form a government. The reality is we support a People’s Vote to take the deal back to the people and have it explained to them by independent experts before the vote.”

Mr Goacher, a teacher at the college, drew big cheers from the students when he said his party’s policy was to hold a second referendum.

“I would campaign for Remain and I do not care who knows it - Brexit is a stupid idea,” he said.

Questions turned to education funding, with one student asking what the parties would do to reverse a 60 per cent real-terms cut for the college since 2010.

Mr Quince said difficult decisions had to be made by the Government in 2010 due to the state of the economy after the Labour government but said the Conservatives were promising £14 billion more for education.

Mr Goacher hit back at Mr Quince’s claims. He said: “The crash was caused by a banking crisis started in America. Austerity was a political choice.”

Mrs McKay called Mr Quince out on his voting record in Parliament.

She said: “Will, you can sit on stage and talking about this or write to the newspaper about giving funding to schools but you voted for these cuts to education.”

Mr Goss added: “Under the Conservatives plans this college will be £1.2 million worse off, or £365 per pupil.”

On Saturday, about 100 members of the public attended a climate hustings with the candidates, bar Mr Quince.

His absence from the event was criticised by the audience and panel.