EU Membership: Economic Benefits

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:55 pm on 15th June 2016.

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Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) 2:55 pm, 15th June 2016

I want to bring the debate to the local level and address some of the concerns that ordinary people are grappling with in making a decision on what to do on the EU. Many people in my constituency over the past few weeks have said to me that they feel angry. They feel that their city has suffered most because of the global recession and the downturn after the banking crisis. We have seen a lot of cuts to our public services. We have had the botched NHS reorganisation and people are having to wait longer in A&E. People have concerns about immigration, and the slogans the Government use about the northern powerhouse are not followed through with any action.

What worries me is the idea being put about that leaving the EU is some kind of panacea, and that somehow, magically, all those issues will suddenly disappear on 23 June if people vote to leave the EU. There are four very clear, self-interested reasons why my city of Hull, a proud trading city, should vote to remain in the EU. They are based on the economic benefits of being in the EU.

First, Siemens recently invested £310 million in building a wind turbine manufacturing factory in Hull. One thousand jobs will serve the work that DONG is doing in the largest offshore wind turbine farm off the east coast, creating another 2,000 jobs. Siemens states:

“Siemens believes that being part of the EU is good for UK jobs and prosperity and we have concerns about the possible effects of a vote to leave. We see the main benefits of EU membership as: tariff-free access to the UK’s biggest export market;
a common set of rules between 28 countries that reduce business costs;
and access for British businesses and universities to EU-wide innovation and research initiatives, which are helping to shape the industries of the future. These advantages help to make Britain a better place to do business, not just for Siemens, but for companies across our supply chain and beyond.”

Secondly, caravans are manufactured in east Yorkshire. The Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 found that exports to Holland and Germany had increased by 21% in the past year, because their market is open and available to us.

Thirdly, on pharmaceuticals, Hull is the home of Smith & Nephew and Reckitt Benckiser. Deloitte has said that if we leave the EU there is a real risk to the UK pharmaceutical industry. At the moment, we have access to £8.5 billion of research, which would not be open to us if we left. We also have access to the innovative medicines initiative, which again will not be open to us if we leave the EU.

Fourthly, I want to say something about the university. Hull University employs 2,500 staff, with 1,000 in academic and research posts. It has received £12 million of direct EU funding in recent years, which is part of the £200 million of EU-funded research available to British universities. The vice-chancellor of Hull University states:

“There is a huge value in being at the EU table. If you are in the club, you get the chance to shape the research programme. If we weren’t in the club, we wouldn’t have that opportunity.”

In the end, in this referendum, the power is with the people, not Members of Parliament, but the last thing my constituents need is a home-grown, self-inflicted recession and years of uncertainty and instability, and we know that the effect of recession will be felt much more strongly in places such as Hull than in Surrey Heath or Uxbridge. The UK will struggle to renegotiate a trading relationship with the EU, and I am sure we will find we still have to contribute to the EU budget and accept the free movement of labour—an issue about which many people have genuine concerns—while having no say in shaping the EU’s future direction on that and many other issues. Whatever happens on 23 June, I will keep fighting for Hull, exactly as I have done up to now. I ask that Hull electors bear in mind the fact that if they choose to leave the EU, it will make the task of standing up for the city even harder.