Madam Deputy Speaker,
“by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential.”
Those words, written on Labour’s membership card, are why I joined my party. I believe they are as true for nation states as they are for the people I am now privileged to serve. I say that because the central argument made by those who want us to leave the EU is that Britain will achieve more, and have more power and control, if we vote for Brexit. I could not disagree more. In a world that is more connected than ever before, real control—the power to shape our destiny, tackle challenges, and seize opportunities rather than be left to the mercy of events—comes from working with our neighbours and allies to get the best for the British people.
President Obama says that the nations that wield influence most effectively do it through the collective action that today’s challenges demand. He is right. Being a member of the EU gives Britain more influence and power, not less: the power to sell our goods in a single market of 500 million people, according to rules that we help decide, and to reach better trade agreements as part of a bigger bloc of 28 countries; the power to tackle cross-border terrorism and crime, and to act together when the rule of international law is threatened on our doorstep, as we did with the sanctions regime we imposed following Russian aggression in Ukraine; and the power to address serious, long-term global challenges such as climate change, using our influence to secure a better deal within the EU and using the EU’s influence to get a better deal with the rest of the world. Cutting ourselves off from our neighbours and allies in Europe and attempting to go it alone would diminish Britain’s power, not increase it, and give us less control in shaping our future, not more.
While I care passionately about Britain’s influence and role in the world, in the end this referendum will come down to the central question of our economy and whether we will be better off in or out of the EU. Not a single serious or credible organisation thinks that we would be more prosperous out. The TUC and the CBI are united on this: jobs, investment and wages will be hit, and businesses and workers will suffer. The Institute for Fiscal Studies warns that our economy will shrink if we leave the EU. The costs would far outweigh the money that we would get back by no longer being a member, and we would require an additional £20 billion to £40 billion of borrowing or spending cuts on top of what is already planned.
I am campaigning for remain not just because of the risks of a Brexit vote but because of the opportunities for British businesses, workers and young people to build a better future if we remain in the EU. Membership has already benefited this country hugely, attracting crucial investment from companies such as Nissan, Siemens, Hitachi, Toyota and Jaguar Land Rover, which has brought decent jobs and training for young people in the areas that need them most.
Businesses in my constituency, such as the IT company Rock Hall and the energy efficiency company BillSaveUK, tell me that they have real potential to expand and grow their businesses in future, particularly as the single market in digital services is completed and new trade deals open up markets in areas such as clean energy. I desperately need such companies to expand and thrive so that more of my constituents can get decent jobs in the modern manufacturing industries of the future.
Many of the students I meet tell me that they are passionate about us remaining in the EU. Our great University of Leicester has benefited hugely from EU investment in its new Centre for Medicine, which is doing world-leading research on heart disease and training the doctors of the future. Being part of the EU enables my local students to live, learn and study in other countries. They are terrified that, if we leave the EU, their job prospects will be worse.
Like me, those students are astonished that people who back Brexit, such as Aaron Banks, say that even if there is an impact on our economy, it is a “price worth paying”. But who will end up paying the price? Not Mr Banks, Michael Gove or Boris Johnson. It will be those who always suffer in an economic downturn—the poor, the vulnerable and the low paid. Jobs will be lost and incomes will be hit, and families will be left struggling to cope with the consequences. Slower growth and lower tax receipts will reduce funding for the public services we all rely on, and for what? The mirage of greater self-control. That is why I am passionate about us voting to remain in the EU—so that we do not put our communities at risk and so that we can seize the opportunities of the future.