The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has in the past couple of days announced that there will be a referendum as to whether Britain should remain in the European Union. This referendum will take place on Thursday June 23.
This referendum is of enormous importance as to what happens to this country for years to come. This vote will be the biggest and most significant vote in my lifetime – bigger than any general election. It deals with what sort of country Britain will be for much of the 21st century. It will consider the questions of prosperity, security and independence.
I hope that people look at the facts and that everybody entitled to vote will participate in the referendum to give their voice and have their say.
For my part, I believe strongly that Britain is better off in Europe. The European Union is far from perfect, and in places needs radical reform and shifting of priorities. But being a member of the European Union brings this country additional jobs, growth, investment and prosperity.
In addition, the EU has played a part in protecting workers’ rights and improving the quality and choice for consumers.
On the matter of Britain’s membership of the EU and workers’ protection, Britain within the EU has secured workers’ rights to minimum paid leave, equal pay, anti-discriminatory laws and protection for the workers when companies change ownership.
The campaign for workers’ rights is always a struggle – that is why trade unions are important – but this country’s membership of the European Union has shifted the dial towards support for employees.
On the matter of trade, exports to the European Union are worth about £230 billion to the UK economy. This country receives £26.5 billion of investment from European countries every year. Perhaps most significantly, multinational companies decide upon where they will put their next round of capital investment, their next factory or where their next product will be made, often based upon our membership of the European Union and the ability to springboard their investment and goods and services from Britain into the world’s largest trading bloc of half a billion people.
The likes of Nissan in the North East think about where their next car will be manufactured on a number of different metrics, but of some importance is that access to the European Single Market.
Now, if Britain voted on June 23 to come out of the European Union, big multinational companies would not up sticks the following day. But it would be naïve and unrealistic to suggest that future investment in Britain would not be compromised.
If companies want their capital expenditure to help sell things in Europe, they will look at members of the European market to put in place that investment.
I think it is also naïve to believe that if this country votes to come out of Europe, we could somehow agree with the EU on a trade deal with the same degree of rights.
People who often wish to see Britain come out of the European Union also talk about the loss of Parliamentary sovereignty. I am a member of the Westminster Parliament and want real power to reside in the United Kingdom Houses of Parliament, particularly the House of Commons. I don’t see our continuing membership of the European Union as somehow compromising the supremacy of Parliament.
This is a massive issue for the future of our country.
Many people will have already made up their minds. Some people quite reasonably will wish to reflect further and decide whether they believe this country and themselves personally would be better off out or in.
I do think Britain is better off remaining as a member of the European Union.