Every month Jo Cox writes a column for the Batley News and Spenborough Guardian. This month’s column appeared this week.
On June 23 we have the rare opportunity to make a choice about Britain’s future relationship with Europe and the rest of the world.
I know for many people that this is a tough decision, that the debate has been highly charged and the facts difficult to pin down. But I believe that the patriotic choice is to vote for Britain to remain inside the EU where we are stronger, safer and better off than we would be on our own.
What’s more a vote to remain is a vote for certainty. The EU may be imperfect and definitely needs reform but risking all the current advantages of being inside Europe to take a leap in the dark doesn’t feel very patriotic to me.
Remaining gives us far more stability and security. We benefit from a stronger economy. Three million British jobs are linked to our trade with EU countries. We benefit from investment of £24bn a year and families benefit from lower prices. The Confederation of British Industry says being in the EU is worth £3,000 a year for every family, a return of almost ten to one on what we pay in.
We’re also safer in the EU. Many of the threats to Britain’s security are global in nature, such as terrorism, cross-border crime or climate change. There is strength in numbers in an era where international co-operation brings us more power and more influence.
Here in Yorkshire we get a share of the billions of pounds that Britain receives from the EU to support regional development. This investment creates jobs, improves prospects for young people through apprenticeships and higher education, and supports agriculture.
Our region exported goods worth £8.4 billion to the EU in 2014, almost half of all of our exports. We saw 157 investment projects from the EU in Yorkshire and the Humber in the last five years alone, creating or protecting almost 12,000 jobs. And overall a quarter of a million Yorkshire jobs are linked to trade with the EU. A vote to leave puts all this at risk.
The evidence is also now clear and compelling: if we leave there would be an immediate and severe shock to our economy. Treasury experts estimate that we could be pushed into a recession with hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs. House prices would be hit, holidays made more expensive and shoppers forced to pay more for their groceries.
It’s also unclear what deal we would get from Europe if we left. Any deal would need agreement from all 27 EU countries and could take years to negotiate. This uncertainty is not what businesses want nor is it what working people and families need.
And this is not a future I want to pass on to my children or grandchildren. A vote to leave is a risk that is simply not worth taking. So to keep Britain strong, safe and better off I urge people to vote Remain on 23 June.