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East Ham MP Stephen Timms is voting to stay in the EU

PUBLISHED: 10:31 17 June 2015 | UPDATED: 10:31 17 June 2015

East Ham MP Stephen Timms.

East Ham MP Stephen Timms.

Archant

During the election campaign, I argued against the idea of a referendum on our membership of the EU.

I worried that the uncertainty would damage the fragile ecoomic recovery.

However, the Conservatives won the election on the basis of a clear commitment to a referendum. The referendum will now go ahead. The Bill to establish it has started its passage through Parliament.

The question in the referendum will be: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?”

I do agree with David Cameron that the European Union should be reformed.

It needs to be more streamlined and effective. I hope the Prime Minister will take the opportunity to re-negotiate the unfair EU duties on sugar cane imports, for refining by Tate & Lyle and others. The duties protect European sugar beet producers. But the sugar market should be reformed, so that prices to consumers fall and Tate & Lyle can compete on fair terms.

I hope Parliament will amend the EU Referendum Bill. In particular, I would like the franchise extended. 16 and 17 year olds were allowed to vote in the referendum in Scotland. Very large numbers took part in the independence debate, and then voted in the referendum. They showed that 16 and 17 year olds could take part responsibly. I hope the lesson will be learned for the UK-wide EU referendum.

When the referendum comes, I shall be campaigning for ‘Yes’. Our future in East London depends on the growing number of firms – like the Chinese developers of the ‘Asian Business Port’ – basing themselves in our part of London in order to address the European market. If Britain were to leave the EU, we would lose their investment.

I hope we will stay in the EU, and make the most of the opportunities ahead.

More from Stephen


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