Letter for Bassetlaw – March 20th 2016

Another busy week with work, family & political commitments combining to keep me rushed of my feet. To be honest, I wouldn’t want it any other way, I find not being busy just as tiring and much less productive.

I did however make time yesterday to watch England beat France (always something worth celebrating) to complete the Grand Slam.  Not a classic game but a great watch anyway & a good way to round off a busy day.

Yesterday afternoon I was out on Carolgate in Retford, helping with a “Stronger In” street stall.  It is always great to get out and talk to those who will be voting and while there were plenty who had already made up their mind and no amount of facts or evidence was going to change that, many were either already in favour of Remaining In or were undecided and wanted to find out more.

What did surprise me was the level of argument that some in the “Leave” campaign use.  When any attempt to give factual information to show why we are better off remaining in the EU, is met with “that sh*te!”, it is really hard to a sensible discussing.  If they cannot do better than that, then the British public will soon realise that the “Leave” campaign is built on bluster & daydreams and that we need to stay in the EU.

One discussion we had yesterday was with a student who wants to go on to University to study Law.  He was initially favouring the Leave side but when it was pointed out that, if we stay in the EU, he could study in English at a leading European University where there are much lower (or even no) Tuition Fees or that, even if he goes to a UK University, he could spend a year at a University in Europe as part of his course[i] he saw that Remaining In, was not such a bad idea.  This leads me to discuss the second of the areas that I suggest people should look at when thing about how to vote, Opportunity.

Being in the EU gives us more than direct economic benefits.  Part of the being in the single market means we enjoy the benefit of the Free movement of persons.  As we pointed out to the young student, this means that students from the UK can study at Universities in the EEA (EU + EFTA countries) on the same terms as students from those countries.   It means that works from the UK can work anywhere in the EEA without being discriminated against (except in some circumstances where knowledge of the language is critical, as in medicine), remember the TV series Auf Wiedersehen, Pet?  It also means pensioners can retire to Spain or France.  Many UK citizens have made use of these rights and there are about 2.2 million Brits who for at least part of the year, live work or study elsewhere in the EU.  This compares to the 2.3 million citizens of other EU countries who live, work or study in the UK[ii]

It is not just people who benefit from the opportunities being in the EU.  Companies in the UK can tender for work anywhere in the EEA and many do.  Not just in manufacturing, bust also in services & finance, British companies are look for customers & opportunities across Europe, providing work for people here in the UK.

All this would be at risk if we leave the EU.  The opportunities for young British people to expand horizons by studying abroad, the opportunities for British people to work anywhere across Europe would be curtailed & the opportunities for our companies to tender for contracts & openings in the EU will be diminished.   Is this what you want?

[i] http://www.erasmusprogramme.com/

[ii] https://fullfact.org/europe/eu-migration-and-uk/

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