MEPs Vicky Ford and David Campbell Bannerman have their say on EU debate
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There are only two weeks to go until voters on June 23 get to choose the nation’s fate in what is described as the biggest decision in our lifetime. The Reporter asked two of the East’s members of the European Parliament to go head to head and provide the arguments for remaining in or leaving the EU.
Much as it may be tempting to walk away from the bureaucracy of the EU institutions, all my instincts tell me that leaving would lead to a very expensive and drawn out divorce. The recent renegotiation makes it clear that we will not join the Euro or pay for it, we will keep our border controls and will not be part of “ever-closer” political union. We now have a choice of whether we want to stay in Europe’s Single Market which allows us to trade across 28 countries and 500 million consumers.
In the East of England over 300,000 jobs are directly linked to our trade in Europe, this is over half our exports and over 10% of all production. It affects key sectors like car manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, aeronautics, financial services, agriculture and tourism, companies like Ford in Basildon, Astra Zeneca coming to Cambridge, Ryanair at Stansted, as well as many thousands of small businesses and the tens of thousands of people working in financial services. Other countries like Norway outside the Single Market can sell goods into the EU but not all services, they have to accept EU laws without having any say on the underlying terms, and they also have to pay into the EU budget and accept free movement. For an economy as diverse as the East of England, we cannot afford to be in a position like that.
Vote Leave campaigners say they’ll walk away from the Single Market and negotiate a new deal. We cannot predict the terms as it needs the unanimous consent of all 27 other countries, any one of which could veto. We have no idea how long it will take, what trade, what businesses and what jobs will be affected.
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The East of England leads in science and research where we get back more from the EU budget than we contribute. Our scientists work at the cutting edge inventing new treatments for cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease in Cambridge, designing the next generation of cleaner, quieter aircraft, leading advances in data analytics and robotics, making new discoveries in crop protection.
For our scientists to solve our problems, they need to be able to work easily with others across Europe and across the world. More than nine out of 10 scientists say they will vote remain.
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Our renegotiation also helps us to fight crime and terrorism. Our police can now routinely check cross-border criminal records, if they make an arrest they can check DNA records, fingerprint records and even the passenger names of everybody due to land at our airports before their plane takes off. The UK has driven the agenda on cross-border security. No country outside the Single Market gets this.
We are at a time of unprecedented change; across the world economies are under pressure, global security is under pressure, and the changing environment means our planet is under pressure. These are not issues that any country can resolve alone. In difficult times countries turn to Britain for leadership and advice. It is important to stay at the tables where decisions are being made. The UK is in a unique position: the only country to be a leading member of the UN, NATO, the Commonwealth, the G20 and the EU.
British influence has been hard-earned, hard-won and hard-wired through the work of many generations. We give it up at our own great risk.
David Campbell Bannerman
I am in the unusual position here of campaigning for my own redundancy – people say this is rare in a politician. But yes the truth is that as a Member of the European Parliament for the East of England, Brexit will mean the end of my job.
It may take a few years to negotiate a deal, but that is the outcome. However, I genuinely believe in putting my country first, and I am passionately of the view Britain will be better off out of the European Union.
This debate is not right or left, but about who governs us. The common theme is about getting back control of our country and making decisions in the UK. It is about democracy, and this vote on June 23 really matters.
The real choice is between superstate (Remain) or sovereignty (Leave). If you vote for remain based on all the scare-mongering about the economy and security, you will be signing us all up to becoming a province in a country called Europe, to an EU superstate that already boasts a flag, an anthem, a parliament, embassies and the disastrous Euro currency. It is like a superstate jigsaw – many of the pieces are in place.
The missing pieces that a remain vote will trigger next are firstly harmonised taxes, already happening in the Eurozone area – meaning huge hikes for the UK, and VAT on medicines, food and children’s clothes – to fit in with other EU countries. Already the EU is proposing a single EU taxcode and a single VAT area.
Then we will have a ‘Social Union’ – Commissioner Thyssen’s common welfare system for the EU, ultimately meaning we pay for EU pensions. And we will have an EU Army.
Sovereignty means having a great trade deal with the EU but governing ourselves again.
Choosing sovereignty isn’t at all frightening, it’s liberating. We will take back democratic control of our country from the remote and undemocratic EU: at present 60 per cent of our laws come from the EU and we have to ask the EU for permission to spend our money on our own projects like power stations and a steel industry rescue.
We can take back economic control. We send £350million a week to the EU, £190m net. Of course, we get back our rebate, farming subsidiesThe £10billion saved could help the NHS, cut VAT on fuel, or go towards better road and rail infrastructure.
And we can take back border control. Immigration is out of control while we stay in the EU. This is not being anti immigration but it is about managing the numbers. We are on course to be bigger than Germany in 30 years’ time, in a much smaller space. It is simply unsustainable. It overloads our public services – schools, GPs, housing, roads.
We must end EU free movement and introduce a points based Australian or Canadian style system, where we prioritise those with the skills we need not just from the EU but all over the world. We won’t throw anyone out – visas will be for new entrants, but all EU citizens here and Brits living abroad have international rights to stay.
The only way we will take back control in all these areas is to vote leave on June 23. I urge you to choose sovereignty and reject the EU superstate.