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BIG DEBATE: Should we quit the European Union or stay?

Counting the vote... last EU elections in 2009 Counting the vote... last EU elections in 2009

Wednesday, April 2, 2014
7:31 AM

The battle lines are being drawn tonight in a TV debate on the BBC between Liberal Democrat party leader Nick Clegg arguing that we must “stay in the EU to survive” and Nigel Farage of the UK Independence Party saying we should “quit to survive”. Who’s right? We put our own challenge to two London MEPs, Lib Dems’ Sarah Ludford and Ukip’s Gerard Batten:

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Sarah Ludford, Lib Demt MEP for LondonSarah Ludford, Lib Demt MEP for London

Sarah Ludford, Liberal Democrat MEP, who fears millions of British jobs would be lost if we vote in a referendum to quit the EU, says:

Britain’s membership of the European Union is controversial and the topic is crying out for vigorous debate where the facts and myths can be chewed over.

Liberal Democrats are leading that debate, determined to stop the country just sliding out by default, severely damaging our economy and our security.

The Conservatives, faced with the threat of Ukip, are now openly flirting with ‘exit’—although David Cameron refuses to spell out the implications.

Ukip MEP Gerard BattenUkip MEP Gerard Batten

Labour doesn’t have the courage to even lift a finger to keep Britain in the EU, even though they want to stay in.

Only the Lib Dems are taking the fight to Ukip to defend millions of British jobs that are linked to our trade within the EU. It is vital for London’s economy and jobs that Britain stays in the EU.

A growing list of major employers in east Lond0n, such as Ford’s of Dagenham, warns against Ukip’s call to pull the UK out of Europe. Eight-out-of-10 businesses are in favour of staying in the EU. They and their workers benefit from our EU membership through access to European and global markets.

Around 300,000 jobs would be at stake in London alone if we gave that up. One-in-20 firms in Newham and east London say they would fold if Ukip and Tory Eurosceptics get their way.

European cooperation is also needed to tackling crime and climate change that don’t stop at our coastal borders. Our police need access to key EU crime-fighting to bring major criminals like London bomber Hussain Osman to justice.

We will continue to fight efforts by Ukip and Tory Eurosceptics who make it easier for criminals to evade justice and weaken EU policies that protect our environment.

We need to stay in the EU to protect local jobs, fight crime and tackle climate change—that’s the issue in the European elections on May 22.

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But Ukip MEP Gerard Batten dismisses any claim that jobs would be hit if we quit Europe. He argues:

The question of whether we quit the EU or stay in is a simple one. Do we want to live in a democratic country governed by our own elected Parliament with a government accountable to the people—or do we want our country be a mere region of an undemocratic and economically declining ‘United States of Europe’?

We have lost control of our country. A study in 2006 by the German parliament estimated that 84 per cent of new laws come from the EU. Recently, EU Commissioner Viviane Reding stated that the figure was 70pc.

Whatever the ratio at any one time, the simple truth is that most of our new laws now come from Brussels and not Westminster. Our Parliament cannot make a law which contradicts EU rules!

We are told “three million jobs would be at risk” if we left the EU. Nonsense.

Of course, many jobs are linked with trade to Europe. But Europe sells us far more than we sell them. Many more jobs in Europe are linked to trade with the UK than the other way round.

All of these jobs will be safe when we leave the EU. Trade will continue as normal for two reasons—firstly, it is in both our mutual interests to keep trading with each other, secondly, it would be against internationally-binding Word Trade Organisation rules for the EU to put up any trade barriers against Britain.

The issue that has brought home to people our loss of control is the EU’s policy of open borders, which has meant uncontrolled immigration into Britain. We don’t just get the nice, hardworking, decent people we might choose to invite.

Under EU laws, we also get any vagrant, benefit-tourist, alcoholic, drug addict or criminal that cares to turn up.

Britain is no longer a truly free or democratic country. Don’t listen to the myths put about by those who really want to see us inside an undemocratic ‘United States of Europe’.

If you want to live in a country where your vote actually means something, you need to support our exit from the EU.

If we can’t sack our government, we don’t live in a democracy. We can’t sack the European Commission which is now the real government of Britain.

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