Political Science students treated to Rubio and British ambassador lecture

Mariella Roque/Staff Writer

Professor Dario Moreno’s Florida Politics class is used to hearing a lecture by Sen. Marco Rubio once a week, but, on Friday, Feb. 1, it was treated to a brief speech by Sir Peter Westmacott, British ambassador to the US who highlighted the relationship between the two countries, and Cuba.

Peter Westmacott

Peter Westmacott

“I’m not going to talk too much about Florida politics because you know more about it than I do,” said Westmacott, addressing the class. “As you all know, this year is the 250th anniversary of the year 1763 when the Brits took over Florida in exchange for Cuba—sorry about that.”

According to Westmacott, the United Kingdom is the second biggest foreign investor in Florida and the biggest commercial partner of the U.S.

“It was great for the students to see the relationship between the U.S. and Great Britain first-hand,” said Alex Castro, SGC-MMC Vice President and student in the class. “We have over $200 billion invested on both sides.”

Along with investing in the U.S., Great Britain also provides scholarships to American students giving them the chance to study there. Westmacott noted that 50,000 U.S. students go to British universities and gave the example of the Marshall Scholarship as a means for this.

“That’s our way of saying thank you to the American people for helping us out in the second world war,” Westmacott said.

Rubio asked Westmacott to express his sentiments on the future of the European Union in relation to Britain, explaining to the students that “an extraordinary amount of our investments are in that economy and… are deeply invested in the future of Europe.”

In answer to the question, Westmacott discussed the political situation in Britain and that a significant amount of public opinion in the E.U. is “Euro-skeptic,” comparing it to the common American dislike of a big concentration group in a small amount of people, but that British Prime Minister David Cameron’s strategy is to ensure Britain remains in the E.U.

“In my judgement, as a referendum comes, I think what we’ll find is a pretty resounding vote in favor of staying,” Westmacott said.
Rubio thanked Westmacott for having come to the class, telling the ambassador that the University is proud to have a diverse student body, that this is “the face of America and the future of America.”

Rubio’s nation-wide popularity and recent decision to spearhead comprehensive immigration reform have recently put him at the forefront of politics, this meeting raising expectations for the Cuban-American senator.

“It was a privilege to hear from the British ambassador and to learn a little about his influence in Washington,” said Roger Thomas, junior in political science. “To have Senator Rubio in our class, explaining legislature to us from an inside perspective enhances my university experience tremendously.”

University President Mark Rosenberg, University Media Relations and Time reporter Michael Grunwald were also present at the event.