This morning I was at the Airbus factory in Filton with Alan Johnson, Chair of Labour In for Britain; Kerry McCarthy, MP for Bristol East; Helen Holland, Leader of Bristol Labour Councillors; and Marvin Rees, Labour candidate for Mayor of Bristol. Alan was speaking about the importance of Britain remaining a member of the European Union, an issue that our party will be passionately campaigning on in the coming months.
The Referendum will be one of the most important decisions we will make in our lifetime, and I am absolutely committed to Britain’s continued membership. The EU is good for jobs; good for trade; good for consumers; good for workers’ rights; good for the environment; and good for the long-term safety and security of our nation in an unpredictable and changing world. It is the best framework for European co-operation in the 21st century. Unlike the Conservative Party, Labour are united on this issue; the Leader of the Labour Party and the entire Shadow Cabinet will be making the progressive case for Britain in Europe.
The agreement of a deal on the UK’s renegotiation of our membership on 19th February brings worthwhile changes. While I would have liked to have seen the deal include more to address the real challenges of low pay in Britain and the undercutting of local wage rates, the case for our membership of the EU is much bigger than this new agreement.
The EU has brought investment, jobs and protection for workers, consumers and the environment. The strength that we derive from being part of the biggest consumer market in the world means that the average family saves around £450 a year due to lower prices. The UK is also stronger negotiating deals with countries like China and the United States as part of a group of 28 EU nations than we would be on our own.
I agree that the EU needs reform, but we need to make sure that it is reformed to work for us and that means staying in to have a voice.
If we were to leave the EU, the UK would still have to follow its rules when doing business there but would no longer have a say in making the rules. Issues facing us as a country in the 21st century are often global in nature, such as tackling climate change, cyber-crime and terrorism, and the EU will be a vital part of how we meet these challenges.
I am convinced that remaining in the EU is in the best interests of the country and our people, not only for what the EU delivers today, but as a framework through which we can achieve much more in the future. I am proudly joining Labour’s ‘In for Britain’ campaign and will be taking a leading role for the campaign in the South West.