Today I’ve been back on my home turf in the West Midlands, talking to people about why we believe Britain is better off in the European Union - and what's at stake on 23 June if we take a leap into the unknown and vote to leave.
Over the past five years, European companies have invested in over 220 different projects in the West Midlands alone, creating or protecting around 16,000 jobs. In total, around 250,000 jobs in this region depend on exports to the EU – that’s around 9 per cent.
Major employers including Nestle, Rolls Royce, Jaguar Land Rover, HSBC, Deutsche Bank, Mondolez, Toyota UK and Boots have all based themselves in the Midlands. Why? Certainly our skilled and dedicated workforce has a lot to do with it. But so does our location at the heart of the EU.
Today, these businesses can export to the EU without having to pay trade tariffs, without having to submit customs declarations or apply for separate trademarks, wait for products to pass inspections, or adapt to different national standards. It’s ironic that one of the biggest reasons Leave campaigners say we should leave the EU is to cut “red tape”, because the truth is leaving would generate masses more paperwork.
It’s not scaremongering to point out the cost of doing business would go up as a result. And it’s not scaremongering to suggest that leaving the EU would put thousands of jobs at risk.
A report released by the Treasury last week estimated that the impact of leaving the EU could cause unemployment in the West Midlands to rise by around 44,000. As usual, our young people would be hardest hit.
From factory owners in Coventry, to entrepreneurs in Leicester. Business owners consistently tell me they’re voting to Remain in the EU, because they believe leaving would pose a significant risk to jobs.
That’s not civil servants playing with spread sheets and forecasts. That’s employers here in the Midlands who pay their staff every week, and know just how fragile this “economic recovery” is.
Like me, they believe a vote for Britain leaving the EU would have serious consequences for generations to come. I’m not prepared to stand back and watch that happen on my patch.
That’s why I’ve been campaigning in the West Midlands today, and why I’ll be campaigning every day between now and 23 June.
Because I believe in standing up for working people whose jobs and communities depend on trade in Europe.
Because I believe in standing up for the rights of everyone to be treated fairly at work – and for the rights at work that are guaranteed by our membership of the EU.
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