Friday, 18 March 2016

Staying in is a gut feeling, it's best for our children and grandchildren

My speech to Leicestershire County Council

A few days ago I was contacted by a resident living in my division.

‘What’ she asked ‘is the overall cost of Britain being a member of the European Union and what would be the cost if, on 23rd June, we as a nation choose to withdraw?’

I spent an hour or so looking at websites. I looked at government websites, I looked at Labour websites, I looked at pro-EU websites and those which advocate Brexit.

And it struck me.

No one knows.

I’m not saying that no one thinks they know, there are plenty of so called experts who will give you their view, but no one really knows.

We can figure out how much Britain gives to the EU, but then what?

We can make a damn good guess about how much tax revenue is contributed by EU migrants, but that’s about as far as it goes.

We don’t really know how many British jobs are dependent on French and German and Polish people living here.

We can only estimate the true effect they have had on our economy.

And we certainly don’t know what the real impacts of a ‘no’ vote will be.

No one knows for certain how many jobs will be lost in Melton Mowbray or Market Harborough or Coalville because of trade tariffs, or the falling value of the pound.

We don’t know how much will be wiped off savings and investments as our stock market is affected.

We don’t know what the cost to social care will be of retired ex-pats returning to Britain from holiday homes in Spain.

We don’t know what we will have to pay to defend the freedom of Gibraltar, a warning issued only yesterday by that territories First Minister.

We don’t know the cost of maintaining migrant camps across the South coast.

We just don’t know.

Of course, we also don’t know, for certain what the potential benefits will be.

We don’t know if trade across the rest of the world will boom.

We don’t know how we will truly control borders.

We don’t know if we will become an even greater centre of innovation or whether we will see a brain drain like never before.

We just don’t know.

And that’s the point.

On the 23 June not one of us will be voting because we know, we will be voting because we have a gut feeling.

Of course it’s right that we listen to voices that we respect. Voices like the countless politicians, scientists, businessmen and worlds leaders who have already had their say.

But when it comes down to it, when we go into that polling booth we will be faced with a simple binary decision.

In or out.

And we will be faced with a decision that has massive implications for our children. Huge repercussions for our grandchildren and even more generations down the line.

We will be faced with a decision of being proud to be British or being proud to be British AND European.

We will be faced with a decision of being a major player on the world stage or an inward looking nation forever in search of that epithet ‘Great’.

We will be faced with a decision of staying with the imperfection of what we know, or stepping into the abyss.

When it comes down to it’s what our hearts say so much more than our head.

I am so proud to be British, a nation which has lead the world, which has innovated and which has never been scared to put everything on the line for peace.

But I am a proud European too. I’m proud that it is Europe that have taken on a huge responsibility for those fleeing from persecution and death.

I am proud that my children are free to be educated and work in this whole great continent.

I am proud of the peace that the European Union has had a major role in establishing this past 60 or so years.

So, when it comes down to that binary decision on the 23 June I have no hesitation in saying I will vote to remain.

I hope very much today that this council can add another reasonable voice, in essence falling in behind our esteemed leader, reminding the people of this county of the benefits membership of the European Union brings.

We have a duty to help the residents of Leicestershire make the right choice when in comes to making that binary decision that risks so much.