Promoted by Mark Ward-Jones on behalf of the Torfaen Constituency Labour Party at 27 Brunel Road, Fairwater, Cwmbran, Torfaen NP44 4QT.
My statement on my reasons for campaigning for the UK to remain a member of the European Union:
I am in favour of the UK remaining a member of the European Union.
Just as I reject the arguments for Scottish or Welsh independence because I believe we are better together, I also believe that we are better off working together with our European neighbours. In the modern world, working in partnership is vital to tackle issues like climate change which do not respect the boundaries of nations. Neither can we dismiss the success that the EU and its forerunners have had in keeping Europe more peaceful than in the first half of the 20th century, avoiding the awful extent of the bloodshed that devastated previous generations.
EU membership is also in our self-interest as a nation. Our constituency has benefited hugely from EU structural funding. Almost half of our exports are to European Union countries. I find the argument that our trade and jobs would be unaffected if we were outside the EU utterly unconvincing. And if we leave the EU but seek trade deals, we will end up at best like Norway, which despite being outside the EU is still signed up to free movement of people, for example, yet has no place at the table in the EU to influence the rules.
The Prime Minister’s renegotiation was about seeking to deal with internal division in the Conservative Party. It is clear that he is struggling to manage his own party on the European issue, with six members of his own Cabinet openly campaigning against him within hours of the announcement. It is disappointing that the PM did not seek reforms that would have been of greater benefit to working people. I believe that there should be progressive reform in the EU: strengthening workers’ rights; promoting sustainable growth across Europe; greater accountability of EU institutions; and protecting our public services from pressure to privatize them. Achieving such reforms in the future requires the UK to be at the negotiating table as a full EU member.
Our membership of the EU has brought great benefits for working people: minimum paid leave, paid maternity and paternity leave, equal pay, anti-discrimination measures, rights for agency workers, and protecting company employees during ownership changes. EU protections for consumers are also crucial: for example, Labour MEPs have put in a great deal of effort to reduce roaming costs for mobile phone usage. Again, environmental protections at EU level are vital.
If we are to invest in a modern economy in the years ahead, then our gateway to the European Single Market can only be a vital asset. Many policy challenges – climate change and international tax avoidance to name but two – can no longer be solved by nations acting alone; when negotiating with the US and China, we are better able achieve change in these areas negotiating as one of 28 countries with a population of 500 million – being a member of the EU enhances our influence in the world, and it is impossible to forget the founding ideals of the European project: peace, security and prosperity in Europe.