Why I'll be voting to stay in the EU

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Now that the date has been set for the referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, lots of local residents have been asking my views.

I support the campaign to stay in the EU and am one of the political champions for the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign.

Anyone who has visited the battlefields of Europe and seen the graves of those who died in the First and Second World Wars will know that we must never return to a time where we are at war with our neighbours. The EU has helped keep the peace in Europe for decades. At a time when there is so much instability around the world I’ll be voting ‘yes’ first and foremost because I want to be part of a group of nations committed to peace, security and democracy.

Not only that, being part of Europe has brought Britain jobs, growth and provided important protections for workers, consumers and the environment.

It was Labour that made sure that Britain’s EU membership gave British workers’ rights to minimum paid leave, rights for agency workers, paid maternity and paternity leave, equal pay, anti-discrimination laws and protection for the workforce when companies change ownership. And it was Labour in partnership with trade unions that made sure the Tories attempt to diminish workers’ rights was kept off the agenda for Cameron's EU negotiations. Staying in Europe helps to protect these essential rights in the workplace.

Staying in the EU also means we are round the top table as decisions are made that affect us. The EU is the largest single market in the world and almost half our exports go to EU countries – worth £227 billion last year to the UK economy. Pulling out would leave us in the same situation as Norway, which has to adopt all EU law in return for access to the single market – but gets no say in setting the laws. Why would we want to give up our voice?

Crucially, so many of the issues we face today, from terrorism to the need to tackle climate change are issues that transcend our nation’s borders. Through working with our neighbours in Europe to solve these problems, we can achieve so much more than by cutting ourselves off.

I don’t believe the EU is perfect. I have concerns about the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations and believe we should be doing much more collectively to tackle the biggest humanitarian refugee crisis since the Second World War. But staying to have a voice means we can make our case and argue for progressive reforms that work for Britain.

Whilst the Tory Party fight amongst themselves, Labour will be making the positive case for membership of EU at every opportunity.

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commented 2016-02-24 16:40:30 +0000
Hi Caroline

Good post, and yes I’d agree that for geo-strategic reasons – mainly a resurgent Russia – we are better off in. Also if the UK votes to leave it increases the chances of Scotland voting to leave the UK, and thus dismembered we would be far more weaker militarily.

Imagine a unilateralist Scotland demanding relocation of our nuclear missile submarines. Without Scottish bases the ability to project naval and air power into the Greenland-Iceland-UK Gap and Northern waters could be compromised.

And, yes, I realise this makes be sound like some unreformed Cold War warrior (for which apologies…) but I remain convinced that for these reasons (as well as other economic ones whichh you list) we’re better off in.

The ‘Outers’ fail to clearly think through whether we’d be like Switzerland/Norway in our relationship with the EU – paying in to its coffers, forced to adopt its laws and accept free movement of people but without any say-so in how EU rules are made. Or end up even further detached – but with risks to jobs in our key services and financial sectors.

Best Tim
commented 2016-02-23 03:17:38 +0000
Catherine. Like you I believe a foremost reason for remaining in the european community of nations is the enhancement and continuation of Peace. In the past Europe has had the capacity to ‘fall apart’ like no other place on earth, with devastating consequences. This has led to the deaths of tens of millions through savage racial conflict in my lifetime – twice in the lifetime of my (now deceased) parents.
The founders of the European Union knew well what they were about and the people of these offshore islands should be proud to be associated. Can there really be those amongst us who are so cynical and world-weary as to believe we are better off disassociated…? It seems they have not the wit even to remember and to understand the sacrifices made by their parents, their grandparents, and their great-grandparents, let alone of those who came across dangerous oceans to help. They also seem to have forgotten Bosnia.

Brian Fitzpatrick

Catherine West MP

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