Quite understandably, virtually everyone I meet would like to talk about the EU referendum. The choice in this referendum is economic security and global influence as part of the EU, or a leap in the dark.
I believe we’ll be stronger, safer and better off in Europe because we will get to keep access to the Single Market of 500 million people – Britain’s home market – with a say over the rules of doing business across Europe. That means more jobs, lower prices, and more financial security for local families.
Vote Leave say they’ll walk away from the single market and negotiate a new deal, but they can’t explain what it would be and how long it will take. Vote Leave can’t guarantee that the funding Cornwall currently receives from the EU will continue. The truth is if we left, the EU would not give us a better deal than they have for themselves.
Independent experts have said leaving the EU would harm our economy, with an average hit of £4,300 for each UK household and £36bn in spending cuts, which would hit the NHS. If we leave, experts say jobs aren’t safe, prices will rise, mortgages will be at risk, and funding for your local school or hospital will fall. It is a risk not worth taking.
In Britain, we choose to co-operate with our neighbours in Europe because it makes us stronger, safer and better off. Nobody forces us to do this and the EU does not control us.
We retain complete control of our currency, public spending, interest rates, crime and security policy, as well as public services such as healthcare, education and public transport. The Prime Minister’s EU deal protects us from further integration in Europe – known as “ever closer union”.
So it’s simply not true that Britain is “run by Brussels”, as many of those wanting us to leave like to say.
Free movement for EU passport holders allows British citizens to live, work, study or retire in Europe, of which 2.2 million of our own citizens take advantage of. As a result of the Prime Minister’s deal, European passport holders coming here have to work and pay in before they can draw benefits. It’s not a free for all.
When we choose to co-operate with other countries, as we have in the EU, we do so of our own free will. Our parliament decides, no one else. Of course cooperation involves give and take, but when we compromise, it’s because it is in our national interest to do so.
The EU is a vast trading area giving huge opportunities to our businesses and exporters, bringing investment and jobs to Britain, and providing opportunities for Brits to work and travel abroad easily. Being part of the EU makes our economy stronger and magnifies our influence in the world. We would be cutting off our nose to spite our face if we left.
In the modern world, engaging in cooperative decision-making gives us more control, not less; it make us stronger, not weaker; it gives us global power, not the illusion of sovereignty. We joined the UN and NATO in the 1940s, and the G7 and EU in the 1970s, precisely to enhance our power.
Britain is stronger with a fair EU immigration system and access to the Single Market, our home market of 500 million people. People from other European countries should not be allowed to access benefits until they have paid into the system, and that is exactly what the Prime Minister has secured for us. But access to the Single Market means we must welcome those who come here to work hard, pay their taxes and support our public services.
Vote Leave want to go too far, ending free movement completely. That means losing our access to the world’s largest free trade area and a say over the rules of doing business right across Europe, costing us jobs, pushing up prices and leaving us with less money for public services like the NHS. We would compromise opportunities for Brits to work, study, travel and retire freely in Europe, and we could see our border checks moving from Calais to Dover.
Over 100 000 EU citizens work for the health and social care sector. One and a half million people are employed in businesses owned by EU citizens, who have contributed £20 billion more in taxes than they have taken out in benefits. The facts are clear: the overwhelming majority of EU citizens in Britain are contributors, not free-loaders.
So let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. We must ensure fairness without sacrificing our membership of the Single Market, keeping our economy strong and securing opportunities for the next generation.