OXFORD has a major role to play when negotiations begin on Britain's future outside the EU, a former Government minister has said.

Speaking yesterday at Venturefest Oxford in Osney Mead Lord Willets urged people here to make their feelings known on what the best future was for Oxford and the rest of the country.

He said: "There is a debate still to be had about whether or not we will be in the European Economic Area (EEA).

"One scenarios is that we join and accept as part of that deal some kind of freedom of movement of people.

"The other option is not to be part of the EEA.

"The next British Government is going to have to decide on that.

"It is a very difficult decision and it has not been taken yet.

"There is a live debate and especially cities like Oxford which are optimistic places for the future can contribute to that debate."

Speaking as part of a panel which included Dr Marco Malcarne from the European Commission, Lord Willetts, who was Minister of State for Universities and Science between May 2010 and July 2014, said people in areas which voted remain, such as Oxford, had to understand why people in other areas voted to leave.

He said: "In my former constituency of Havant in Hampshire 62 per cent of people voted for Brexit.

"For a lot of people who live there 20 or 30 years ago life was very simple, you went and worked in the Portsmouth dockyard and you had a job for life.

"If you are sitting in the council estate there and you look at all that globalisation it might not particularly benefit you."