Britain’s place in the European Union is about so much more than the fine detail of David Cameron’s renegotiation.
It is, first of all, about the damage that will be done to our economy by the adverse effects of ‘Brexit’ (Britain’s exit from the European Union) on our free access to a market of 500million people.
No one knows what trading relationship we will be able to negotiate with our former partners if we leave, but none of the options looks as advantageous as EU membership.
Brexit supporters display a lot of wishful thinking on this point.
Yet it is particularly important to us in the North East because we are such a successful exporting region but also, as a corollary, particularly vulnerable to trade barriers.
No wonder a survey by the North East Chamber of Commerce this month found that its members favoured remaining in the EU by 63% to 29%.
Perhaps even more fundamental is the vision we have of ourselves as a nation.
Are we going to betray our long, proud tradition of engagement with Europe by retreating into isolation?
Hoping that the undoubted challenges facing our neighbours will pass us by, adopting a populist ‘I’m all right Jacques’ attitude?
Or are we going to take the leading role of which we are capable and play our full part in helping overcome the common economic, security and defence dangers we all face, and together build a better, shared future?
Secretary (North East),
European Movement UK,