Big Debate: Are Newham voters being scared into sticking with EU?

PUBLISHED: 08:00 15 June 2016

Barking and Dagenham voted to leave the European Union, as did the rest of the United Kingdom Picture: Toby Melville/PA Images

Barking and Dagenham voted to leave the European Union, as did the rest of the United Kingdom Picture: Toby Melville/PA Images

PA/Press Association Images

This week’s Big Debate asks who’s really running Project Fear ahead of the EU Referendum.

Those campaigning for the UK to remain in the European Union (EU) in the June 23 vote have been derided in recent weeks as running “Project Fear”, which Leave campaigners say is designed to scare the UK into remaining.

But some believe it’s the Leave campaign that has been running the real Project Fear, by focusing the debate on immigration.

This week’s debate asks who’s really running a campaign of fear.

Rita, left, believes Leave campaigners are the ones running a campaign of fear. But Alan, right, says leaving the European Union is a positive step for Britain Rita, left, believes Leave campaigners are the ones running a campaign of fear. But Alan, right, says leaving the European Union is a positive step for Britain

Alan Craig – Ukip campaigner and ex-Newham councillor

President Obama said the UK will “go to the back of the queue for US trade deals” if we leave Brussels’ control on June 23 – it was hypocrisy and an empty threat.

The US economy has flourished immeasurably since they declared independence from Britain 240 years ago without any trade deals at all. Over that time, apart from war years, business between the UK and US has ballooned to a massive $110billion a year.

There is similar bluster from our own government. David Cameron predicts World War Three and George Osborne says every household will lose £4,300 if we leave the EU.

The European project was a good idea in the grey, exhausted, war-weary years of the 1950s, but it’s no longer fit for purpose. Leaving offers a positive alternative, based on a fresh vision for the UK and a real concern for our children’s future.

The world today is a global village. Rather than continuing to lock ourselves into a declining, aging, rule-bound EU run by an unelected elite and paying £350million a week for the privilege, we want to look outwards and engage freely with the wider world once again.

I had to learn a European language at school; my 13-year-old learns Chinese. The UK has links with India, which officially speaks English, but none with Lithuania in Europe, which doesn’t. Why subject our young to the inward-looking EU straitjacket where youth unemployment runs at nearly 50 per cent in Spain and Greece?

If we leave, speculators may gamble against sterling in the short-term. But having the fifth-largest global economy means we will see off these financial parasites and thrive.

Rita Chadha - CEO at Refugee and Migrant Forum of Essex and London

Both sides in the EU referendum debate are guilty of using scare messages to try and win the argument.

The debate is about so much more than immigration, but you would not know that by reading the headlines.

Monday’s Migration Watch report claiming that we would see a massive increase in Turkish migration if we were to remain in the EU was the worst type of sensationalism that there is.

Contrary to popular opinion, not everyone wants to come to the UK.

There is no scientific basis for Migration Watch’s claims, and even the recent immigration history from within Europe’s newest accession states points to a very different picture.

The country has not been overtaken by EU migrants and EU migrants work in some of our most poorly paid sectors and endure some of our country’s worst conditions while in employment.

It is EU legislation that allows us to safeguard the rights of workers.

It is also EU legislation that allows us to enforce action against bad employers taking advantage.

The EU debate and the very notion of a referendum has been a toxic mix of half-truths and misrepresentations.

Unlike Scotland, the UK has been short-changed, in that we have not been allowed the time or space for reasoned discussion.

But when the EU referendum debate has become a proxy for discussions around immigration and austerity in one of the richest countries in the world, it is no wonder the debate has been reduced to the lowest common denominator.

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