Both Swindon MPs have now declared their positions in the coming EU referendum. North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson has recently come forward to declare he is voting to leave the European Union whilst South Swindon MP Robert Buckland will be supporting the Remain campaign. Both MPs have written a few words for Swindon Link outlining their views on the referendum on 23 June.
The MPs articles below are in alphabetical order and in no way are biased in favour of either campaign
Robert Buckland, MP for South Swindon:
On 23rd June 2016, British people will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to decide whether or not our country remains in the European Union. I voted and supported for the establishment of a referendum because I believe that everyone should have an equal say on the subject and this is now being delivered as part of our Government’s manifesto commitment.
I strongly believe that Swindon and Britain will be stronger, safer and better off as a member of the European Union. For workers in businesses like Honda, BMW, our life science industry and our financial services sector here in Swindon, the EU is about the ability to trade and work as effectively as possible so that our livelihoods can be maintained and improved. Britain’s major employers have repeatedly made clear that they believe Britain is stronger and better off in Europe.
I firmly believe that we are safer and better off because we have access to the EU’s free – trade single market, which gives us more to invest in our vital public services. We can’t give the NHS the resources and investment it needs if our economy is struggling. A weaker economy, slower growth, and lower tax returns mean less money to invest in our public services and crucially could mean spending cuts for our NHS.
Swindon boasts a strong record in financial services with around 13,000 people employed in the industry, which continues to grow. The town also plays host to the biggest building society in the UK, Nationwide.
Zurich is one of Swindon’s largest international businesses with around 55,000 employees, including 7,000 in the UK – 1,000 of them in Swindon. The global insurer has customers in more than 170 countries and plays a vital role in the South West’s economy. All of this could be put at risk by a vote to leave the EU.
Another important issue in the referendum campaign is the impact that the UK’s exit might have on migration. 85% of EU migrants in this country are working, paying taxes and national insurance. This gives us a net benefit of £2.5b per year to the economy. There are also 1.2m British citizens who are living and working in other EU countries. The vote next week will not change the immigration situation, because no one in the Leave camp is saying that the current EU migrants should leave the UK and in Australia, whose points system is being extolled by Leave, they take more people pro rata than the UK.
When it comes to demand for schools, over 90% of local parents are able to secure a place for their child at a school of their choice and the current issue relating to GP surgeries is about recruitment and retention of doctors.
In an increasingly dangerous world of international terrorism and organised crime, it is imperative that we have measures like the European Arrest warrant in place to help fight it. Remaining in the EU will allow our police forces across the UK to use law enforcement intelligence from 27 EU Countries and have continued access to finger print and DNA information. EU co-operation makes it easier to keep criminals and terrorists out of the UK.
Whilst I believe that Swindon and Britain will be stronger, safer and better off as a member of a reformed European Union, it will be for the British people to decide this country’s future by voting in or out in the Summer. This is a once in a generation decision that will be irreversible. There will be no second chances, and no second referendum.
Justin Tomlinson, MP for North Swindon:
For years I have campaigned for an EU Referendum. I have rebelled in Parliament, stood up to colleagues and demanded the chance for Britain to have its say. When the public last had its say, the UK joined the Common Market in 1973 (I was minus 4 years old!) Since then, the EU has become a federalist governing body that was never the initial intention.
The Referendum campaign has been thoroughly depressing. Both sides seemingly making it up as they go along, resorting to increasingly spurious claims and scare tactics. They have both put people off rather than encourage democratic debate.
Despite this I have made up my mind and for me there are 3 important points that underpin this.
Firstly, the Economy. Britain has the 5th largest economy in the world and is the EU’s single biggest export market. As MEP Dan Hannan ironically points out, Britain even exports tea to China, naan bread to India and kayaks to the Inuit. We have also created more jobs in the past five years than the other 27 EU states put together.
The Remain campaign claim that tariffs would be applied and the economic drawbridge drawn up. They claim that Germany, France and every other EU state could cease trading with us – despite the UK being their biggest customer. Their claims are complete nonsense. There is no way that EU states would want to stop free-trade that is loaded in their favour. Campaigners in the past cried out that there would be the same economic meltdown if we didn’t join the Euro. That didn’t happen! The fact of the matter is the UK would continue to trade with the EU, whilst also enjoying the freedom to take advantage of the growing worldwide economies too.
Secondly, immigration. Now our economy needs immigration: we have an ageing population and we have a skills gap fuelled by our record employment which is bringing us close to structural employment. Few people would dispute this, however Remain insist it is all or nothing when it comes to immigration. Rubbish. It is common sense to have controls, to plan, to strike a fair balance on what our economy needs and what our public services can support (schools, GP’s, hospitals etc).
Finally, we need to remember the core principle of democracy. Much has been made of how few people can name the 5 Presidents of the EU (excessive!), but how many could actually name our elected MEPs? This isn’t democracy, they are not properly accountable – it is the establishment and rightly people are demanding change. I also believe that our own elected Parliament should always be sovereign. Whilst we do elect our MEPs, we do not elect the President of the EU nor the EU Commission.
I have always maintained that my gut instinct was to Vote Leave. Nobody can predict the future. People should not be guided by scare tactics but based on what they feel would be the best deal for us. Do not allow anybody to persuade you that Britain would not be able to go it alone – we are Great Britain. I personally do not want to give more power and money to the EU. This is our one and only chance to take back control and prosper in our own right.