I have listened to the arguments on both sides of this debate and I firmly believe it is in both Huddersfield and the UK’s interest to remain in the EU.
I am just about old enough to remember the intensive bombing in Britain during the Second World War, and I can still recall being told by my family that I must stay in the air raid shelter following the bombing and destruction of our neighbour’s home. For many people of my generation, European countries working together for the common good was a miraculous outcome of that terrible conflict, and all the institutions that preserve the unprecedented period of peace that Europe now enjoys are precious and should be cherished. The EU is one such institution, and this reason alone is enough for me to vote to remain.
However, there are many other arguments for remaining that are less personal for me, but which nevertheless are very powerful, and as a Labour MP and your elected representative, I would like to share them with you:
More jobs and better jobs
- As many as 3 million British jobs are linked to our EU membership. There is no doubt that leaving the EU would put these jobs at risk.
- The EU is Britain’s biggest market; almost half of all Britain’s exports go to the EU, supporting or securing over 783,000 jobs in Yorkshire and the Humber.
- Exports to the EU from Yorkshire and the Humber were worth £7.8bn in 2015, 47% of the total
- Imports to the Yorkshire and the Humber from the EU were worth £12.1bn in 2015, 55% of the total
For workers’ rights
- The right to 4 weeks’ paid holiday per year
- Equal treatment for full and part-time staff
- Extended parental leave
- The right to equal pay for men and women
The difference in your pocket
- The average UK household benefits from the EU by £450 a year
- Lower cost of goods and services because of free trade
- Mobile roaming charges slashed, and to be abolished in 2017
- Cheaper flights to and from Europe
What has Huddersfield gained from the EU?
- Yorkshire and the Humber has been allocated £630m of EU structural funding over the next five years
- Kirklees Council has received £20m over the past ten years to spend on regeneration and supporting local industry
- The EU has provided assistance to 1062 local businesses and 416 community organisations
- Huddersfield University is the biggest employer in our Town and has benefited enormously from EU membership – recently its Creative Arts Building and the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre were built thanks to EU money
- The Harold Wilson court housing development was part-funded by EU money
- Huddersfield remains a world leader in the manufacturing of textiles and the Huddersfield Textile Centre of Excellence has received £1.5m of EU funding for its Innovation programme
Leaving the EU would be a disaster for our town and our country. Many economists predict an economic shock similar in scale to that of 2008 and it will take a long time to recover from this as we will have to rebuild out trade links from scratch. This will put public services such as the NHS in great danger and will only mean further austerity in the long run.
Brexit will strengthen the likes of Nigel Farage, UKIP and Boris Johnson who will seek to rebuild the country in their own image, which will set back the enormous gains this country has made in terms of workers’ rights, rights for women and minority groups.
We are stronger, safer and better-off in the EU.