To leave the EU would be to lose control

I believe we should remain in the European Union. We are better off, more secure, and stronger on the world stage.

Thursday, 9th June 2016, 4:00 pm
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These are three key reasons why I will be voting to remain a member of the EU.

Such a decision has not been taken by the British people since 1975. British people should have their say and David Cameron was right to deliver this choice.

Like many, I have taken my time to weigh the arguments, speak to constituents, assess the claims and facts on both sides, and read the agreement brought back by the Prime Minister in February. I will be voting to stay in a reformed European Union.

I will be voting to stay because I think it is the positive choice for our economy. Six hundred economists, all the major independent financial organisations and our allies, like America, Australia and New Zealand, are all telling us to stay.

It is fundamentally wrong-headed, as the leave campaign does, to talk about our membership of the largest free market anywhere in the world as something that holds us back.

Firstly, the EU is a market of 500 million people. Five hundred million who can and want to buy British goods and services, and who we can buy goods and services from, free of any restraint of trade or protectionism. To put this in perspective, this is about 150 million people more than the populations of the USA and Canada combined.

It’s a vast amount of economic opportunity on our nation’s doorstep. This not only helps our businesses to grow, but allows them to create jobs. Three million people’s livelihoods in this country are linked to trade with Europe, and countless more indirectly. It also means that with growing businesses and a stronger economy, we can, through taxes, continue to fund, support, and improve public services.

Secondly, it is because of this market that we can get better trade deals with countries around the world. The EU is by GDP the joint largest, with the USA, economy in the world. This can only represent positive opportunities for the UK. It means we can negotiate a trade deal with China on a stronger footing, knowing that the EU’s economic clout can back up a preferential deal for the EU and, crucially, for Britain. It means we will soon be part of the biggest free trade deal ever signed, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, allowing us to trade more freely with the US.

To leave would be to throw this away, starting from square one. We are the fifth biggest economy in the world, but, crucially, just over a quarter the size of China, or a sixth the size of the USA.

I am proud that Britain rightly punches above its weight on the world stage, but to think we would be front of the queue for trade deals if we were not part of the biggest economy in the world is fanciful.

Much of the Leave campaign’s arguments centre around control. The claim is that we have lost sovereignty. However, the question is: How much sovereignty have you lost when you have no control over the financial regulations affecting your economy, the consumer and trade rules which bind your businesses and customers, or the pollution drifting over your borders?

We are members of some 700 international treaties built on compromises between countries, including NATO and the United Nations. Crucially, we have a say in the making of these compromises, and in these organisations, pooling some sovereignty to get a better deal for us, but if we were to step outside, we would have no say whatsoever.

I want us to continue to punch above our weight on the world stage by getting stuck in, not by leaving the ring at half-time. If we were to leave, and take up a Norway or Switzerland model, we would have to abide by all the rules we do now, but would have no say in the making of those rules. To leave would be to lose control, not to gain it.