Tag Archives: EU

Newspaper column – Better to improve than leave

UJ EU flagEvery 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.

Newspaper column: EU debate must be honest, frank and responsible

Jo Cox calling for informed debate ahead of the EU referendumThe prime minister has fired the starting pistol on campaigning ahead of the EU referendum, which we now know will be held on June 23.

Our problem here in Britain is that the debate is polarised by our media and many of our politicians and as a result it is rarely reasoned or responsible. There are so many myths about the EU but the most repeated is that the EU is incapable of reform. Actually, it is always changing and adapting. As for the ‘bureaucrats in Brussels’, not a single thing the European Commission, its civil service, puts forwards can happen without member states – i.e. the British Government – signing it off.

In contrast to the Tories, who are riven with division on this, Labour is almost wholly united. The majority of our MPs and members are committed to remaining in Europe and more than 90 per cent of MPs have signed up to the Labour In For Britain parliamentary group, including Jeremy Corbyn and the entire shadow cabinet. We also unanimously agreed the GMB union’s motion last year committing us to campaigning to stay in the EU.

But we have to make the case in an honest and frank way.

My colleague Stephen Kinnock MP put it well: “Labour must not allow the EU referendum to be about deciding whether or not Polish plumbers or Latvian taxi drivers are allowed to claim tax credits. Rather, we must ensure that we make this a referendum about what sort of country we want to live in, and what sort of nation we want the United Kingdom to be. This referendum must be about what it means to be British in the 21st century.”

He is right.

Exiting the EU would be a disaster for Britain and we must make that case. We cannot let this important debate be reduced to a referendum on migration. Yes, immigration should and will be part of the debate but we must focus on the bigger arguments and be talking about jobs, investment, security and our influence in the world.

Working people are better off in the EU and we should say so. European laws have guaranteed us better rights and protections for working people such as paid annual leave, rights for agency workers and paid maternity leave.

We are more secure thanks to the EU. Tracking down cross-border criminal networks involves sharing intelligence with our European neighbours. We can better protect our borders in partnership with European nations, not by being out in the cold.

Consumers get lower roaming charges, cheap flights and better protections thanks to our membership of the EU.

There is also a patriotic case to be made. Our position in the world is enhanced, our influence is greater. Diplomatically and economically we punch above our weight and that is helped in large part by the EU.

Responsible debate is paramount. I fear, however, that we won’t get it. What I do know is that Britain should be engaged and leading in Europe not disengaged and waving goodbye.


Parliamentary Question – Foreign and Commonwealth Office

EU Referendum

Jo Cox MP: The previous Government carried out a detailed assessment of what the European Union has delivered for the people of the United Kingdom—known as the balance of competences review—yet all has gone quiet. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell me when his Government will come forward with an overview of all 32 reports to show the British people what the European Union has delivered, and help to inform the debate?

Read the minister’s reply here.