EU: should we stay or should be go?

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Have your say

Labour rivals Lord Foulkes and Nigel Griffiths have their say on Britain’s future in the European Union.

LORD FOULKES: STAY

In a world where China and the US are increasingly powerful, our strength in Europe comes from our unity. Negotiating trade deals, creating and sustaining employment and economic stability are easier in a large European Union.

Fighting crime and combatting terrorism is more effective when we work together with powerful weapons like the European Arrest Warrant to pursue criminals across borders.

The common market and the free movement of labour maintains prosperity. So many British people now work and live in the other countries of Europe. Their future would be jeopardised if we leave.

And there are many Europeans living and work in Britain who help to maintain our commerce and public services. Italian restaurants and French designers, German engineers and Polish plumbers are among the many who keep Britain prosperous.

In Gibraltar and Northern Ireland, there is concern that exit would create problems at the boundaries with Spain and Eire respectively.

But beware of the usual scare stories from the separatists who advocate exit. They will make up stories about the EU requiring straight bananas or making us drive on the right.

The truth is that both Holyrood and Westminster will retain the powers they have and can exercise best at that level and only when, as in environmental hazards, a European decision is more effective for us all are powers transferred to the EU.

What the exiters will not tell you is how complicated, expensive and time consuming the process of withdrawal would be. Civil servants would be tied up in this process instead of improving services and stimulating the economy.

And they will not spell out the alternatives. Do they want us to be like Norway which pays more per head, conforms to the rules of the EU but has no say in determining them? Or would we be some offshore tax haven or neutral country like Iceland with no power or influence in the world?

In the referendum we will have the choice of remaining in a union which has kept the peace and brought prosperity to our continent for more than half a century or a voyage into the unknown. I certainly want my grandchildren to have the security, stability and prosperity I have known all my adult life as a citizen of the EU.

Lord Foulkes is chairman of Labour Movement for Europe in Scotland and a former Lothian MSP.

NIGEL GRIFFITHS: LEAVE

It is time to leave the EU and join the world. The recent “renegotiation” talks in Brussels failed to secure any meaningful reform. So Labour Party supporters are campaigning to leave the undemocratic EU. £19 billion goes every year from the UK Treasury to Brussels. That’s £50 million every day.

We get less than half back and Brussels stops us spending our money on our priorities: jobs in manufacturing, energy, regeneration, agriculture and fisheries.

• Our strong economy and skilled workforce attract international companies to invest here – not our membership of the EU. Five million EU jobs depend on their exports to the UK – £62bn more comes here than we export to the EU. The EU can’t afford a trade war with us.

• Scottish agriculture is the main loser in the EU from the move away from Pillar 1 direct payments. Agriculture produces 1.6 per cent of EU output, employs fewer than 5.5 per cent of the population but the Common 
Agricultural Policy swallows £43bn per annum and 40 per cent of the budget. It adds £16 a week to each household’s food bill (and dumps food in Africa and impoverishes farmers there).

• Our security is best protected by retaining our seat on the UN Security Council and remaining members of Nato and Interpol.

• The EU supports tax-dodging multinationals – Luxembourg has become their tax haven of choice.

• The EU threatens workers’ rights, promoting zero hours contracts and suspending free collective bargaining.

• The EU’s free movement of labour rules exploit UK workers, allowing employers to import cheap labour.

• The US/EU trade agreement, TTIP, threatens the NHS, railways, food, environmental safety and banking regulations, opening up public services to US corporations.

David Cameron has made some demands of Brussels but the SNP makes none. The First Minister’s speech last June flattered Brussels but made no mention of the plight of Scottish fishing, agriculture or manufacturing. The SNP gave 100 per cent support for the euro in its first election manifesto for the Scottish Parliament. Alongside the key leaders of the In campaign they said it would be folly to stay out of the euro. They were wrong then. They are wrong now. It is time to leave the EU and join the world.

Nigel Griffiths is the Scottish Co-ordinator of Labour LEAVE and former MP for Edinburgh South.