I support the UK’s membership of the European Union and recommend that my constituents in St Helens South and Whiston vote to Remain in the referendum on the 23rd June. I’ve reached this decision because I believe that Europe is good for people, good for St Helens and Whiston, good for Business and vital for ensuring peace in Europe.
By working together within the European Union we’ve achieved massive advances in workers’ rights- rights to paid leave, rights for agency workers, rights to equal pay, rights to paid maternity and paternity leave. Agency workers, and workers whose company changes ownership all have guaranteed protections too. Equal pay for men and women who do the same work, and protection against discrimination in the workplace are all guaranteed because Britain is in Europe. If we leave the EU, all those rights could be ripped up by a Tory government in the future.
We’ve brought millions of pounds to St Helens- through Objective 1 and Objective 2 to rebuild after we lost our coalmines and much of our glass industry- through training and through regeneration. European finance allowed us to build our linkway, our retail parks and our technology campus and reclaim land that allowed us to build our stadium and people’s homes on housing estates like the New Bold Estate and the Shires. And in Whiston and Prescot, our European money allowed us to rebuild our hospital to house a nation leading burns hospital and to build retail parks like those on the old BICC site that brought jobs to the area.
And the EU is good for business. We live in a global world and in a global market place. The EU gives our businesses access to a market of 500 million people. But more than this it makes Britain an attractive place for businesses to do business, produce products and create jobs. This includes 350,000 in the North West alone. Walking away from the EU would hurt our economy and our people’s security no end. Make no mistake leaving the EU will not free us from European Law. If we want to continue to trade in their market we must live up to their standards and obey their laws. All that would change if we vote to leave is that we would not have a seat at the table when the laws were made and we would have to pay if we wanted to trade.
But, most important of all, the European Union ensures a peaceful and secure Europe. It’s no coincidence that there has been no European wide war since 1958 when the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community was signed. When we communicate, we do not fight. When we work together, we have peace. On top of this, thousands of suspected criminals and terrorists have been removed from the UK since 2004 thanks to the European Arrest Warrant and over 1,100 suspected criminals have been returned from European countries to face British justice. Leaving the EU could mean we are no longer able to use the European Arrest Warrant and our ability to counter terrorism and international crime would be severely undermined. It would also undermine EU intelligence sharing and police cooperation, both of which play a crucial role in the UK’s fight against crime and terrorism, and therefore make the UK less safe.
Does this mean that the European Union is a perfect institution? Of course not, but which institution is? I have served in this constituency for over 30 years and, in that time, I have learned to tell when something will benefit the people of this constituency and remaining in the European Union will benefit the people in this constituency! It is imperative that we remain a member of this group!