Haringey residents could be forgiven for not knowing that on May 22nd we will be electing our European Members of Parliament. Liberal Democrats are fighting for our jobs and our security and much else in Europe. But not a peep from Labour here about the Euros – and yet – I cannot believe that Labour really want us out of Europe.
But that’s just a guess as Labour are nowhere to be seen on Europe. They are far too busy making class war party political broadcasts to stand up for local people, and the local firms and local jobs that benefit from our membership of the European Union.
Our jobs, our security and our well-being depend on being in Europe. Yes, we need to fight for reform and reduction in bureaucracy – but you have to be in it to win it.
In Sarah Ludford, London’s Liberal Democrat MEP, we have a true champion. She has fought tooth and nail to make sure that our civil liberties are respected, our businesses get a good deal in Europe and our environment is protected.
When the Liberal Democrats say we’re the party of ‘In’, it’s not because we worship symbolically at the altar of EU institutions. It’s because being In Europe is vital to secure real benefits, of which the most immediately important is jobs in Britain. This is the clear message coming from major employers, like Ford, Nissan, Siemens and BAE Systems – who have all warned against pulling Britain out of Europe.
According to a recent YouGov poll 6% of British companies said they would go out of business if we left the EU. This translates into almost 10,000 firms closing and 300,000 people being out of a job in London alone; the starkest possible reminder that we’re ‘In Europe, In Work’.
But it’s not just people’s jobs that are protected (and created) due to our EU membership. Being part of the European Single Market also benefits British consumers by keeping prices and the cost of living down.
Holidaymakers are benefiting from the EU drive to cut by 70% the roaming charges for using mobile phones abroad and from free emergency healthcare in other EU countries through the European Health Insurance Card.
Brits also benefit from cheaper prices at home thanks to the European Single Market, and the competition it promotes. One study has estimated that the average consumer is £450 a year better off thanks to lower prices caused by greater competition across Europe. Being outside not just the EU but the European single market – as UKIP want – would put these gains at risk. (Many Tories say they want to stay in the single market, but that would be like Norway, having to follow the EU’s rules but with no say over them).
Outside the single market, businesses in Britain would also be subject to tariffs on their exports to the EU, hitting the car, dairy and clothing industries particularly hard. Citigroup has warned that the British public would face a drop in living standards under these circumstances, as it would force companies to pay lower wages to British workers to maintain current export levels or lead to a weaker pound.
That’s why in the crucial European elections, we need to take the fight to Tory Eurosceptics and UKIP, as their calls to leave the EU or even the wider European Single Market are putting British livelihoods at risk. And Labour’s silence on Europe and failure to stand up for the national interest means that Liberal Democrats need to shout even louder about the importance of keeping Britain ‘In Europe, In Work’.