This morning saw Alan Johnson MP launch the Labour in for Britain campaign in Birmingham for the UK to remain a member of the European Union. With the Conservatives in disarray on the issue and the Liberal Democrats now with a vastly diminished number of MPs it is the Labour Party that must put forward the arguments of why the EU is good for British businesses and good for working people.
The biggest employer in Erdington is Jaguar Land Rover. The strengthening economy in Erdington is largely due to the growth of the JLR plant in the constituency and the thousands of jobs that this plant has created for local people, they now employ 3,000 workers, including in the supply chain. This is a story that is mirrored in communities all over the country with similarly excellent employers in the automotive industry.
JLR has been able to grow and continue to provide jobs due to the huge amounts of inward investment it has been able to receive. This inward investment has only been possible thanks to the benefits of being part of the EU.
With EU membership comes more relaxed trading rules with other member countries, which allows the cars built in the UK to be sold around Europe – one of the largest consumer markets in the world. The ability for cars to be built in Erdington and driven in Berlin, Paris, Dublin and Rome with relative ease and minimal extra cost is what has made JLR such an outstanding partner of our community.
Those who campaign to leave the EU have said that trade rules can be negotiated with the UK and the EU as separate trading partners. I am, however, not willing to risk the jewel in Erdington’s crown being lost on a wing and a prayer.
We do not know what would happen if we do leave the EU. What I know for sure, however, is that people have been employed and will continue to be employed by JLR and others due to our current position of being an integral member of the EU. I want to be on the side of what I know to be good for today and the future rather than gamble with the future of those I am proud to represent.
In addition, the Paris Talks that are underway right now are trying to address one of the great challenges of the 21st Century – climate change. Whilst I hope a good deal emerges from these talks there is always more that can be done. Our membership of the EU allows us to formulate more effective green policy with our European partners. The co-operation that is achieved on areas like environmental policy at the European level is vital for the progress we desperately need to hand over a sustainable planet to our children and grandchildren.
EU membership also allows us to follow criminals across Europe. Not only is this an important advantage for the sake of justice but it also makes our country more secure. The fact we can track down and arrest the perpetrators of any major crime, like a terrorist attack, in any EU country is a crucial deterrent. In light of recent tragic events in Paris we must do everything we can to ensure the security and safety of British people. EU membership is part of that.
Therefore, for a more prosperous, greener and more secure Britain I am proud to say: Labour, in for Britain.