The European Union referendum on June 23 is of huge importance. The consequences of voting to turn our backs on Europe would be serious.
The stakes are high and the questions I hear repeatedly on the doorstep are:
What is best for me and my family?
What is in our national interest?
What sort of country do I want Britain to be in the 21st century?
Britain built our economy through sustained engagement with the rest of the world. We are a trading nation that helped build the international institutions that contribute to peace and prosperity – the United Nations, NATO and the European Union.
Being part of the European Union makes our economy stronger.
Today, half of everything we sell to the rest of the world we sell to Europe. In 2014 our exports were worth £226 billion and we receive an average of £26.5 billion of investment into Britain every year from EU countries. Up to 3 million jobs in the UK are linked to the European Union and a further 790,000 could be created by 2030 through opening up markets in tourism, digital services and energy. The average family saves around £450 a year due to lower prices because we belong to the biggest consumer market in the world.
These are direct economic benefits to the individual citizen in Britain.
Being part of the European Union gives us a stronger voice in the world.
On all the issues that trouble governments today – climate change, cross border organized crime, economic growth, and many more – the European Union plays a global role and the UK through its membership, helps shape that role.
Membership of the European Union is good for our national security.
It provides an integrated approach to policing and justice that better tackles the crimes that recognise no borders. For instance, 400 people who have committed serious crimes in Britain and then fled to Europe have been arrested under the European Arrest Warrant.
Membership of the European Union guarantees important rights at work.
The Social Contract ensures that workers are treated fairly and that the single market can never become a race to the bottom. 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: these are all in place thanks to our membership of the EU.
Of course the EU needs to be reformed. Our membership means that we can have a voice and work to strengthen these protections in the future. The most effective way to reform an institution is through explanation, persuasion, building alliances, making friends – not by walking away.
That’s not being run by Europe. That’s making Europe work for us.
I am campaigning and voting to Remain on June 23. I hope you will join me.