EU Referendum: The case for South Tyneside to vote Leave

The European Union flag and national flags in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
The European Union flag and national flags in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Vote Leave have written an article for Shields Gazette readers saying why the borough would be better off voting to leave the European Union.

When national polling organisation YouGov asked 80,000 voters around the country whether the UK should stay in the EU or not, the people of South Shields were in no doubt about the answer.

And that’s why the town is now firmly known as the eighth most Eurosceptic place in Britain.

Read the case for Vote Remain

It’s a proud boast for a town that has had plenty of downs and not so many ups during all the years of EU membership.

Many of the reasons why South Shields is massively in favour of Brexit are close to home.

To take just one example, concerns over the fate of acute hospital services including stroke and maternity care in the town have fuelled many people’s desire to leave, as well as a vocal campaign to preserve them.

Estimates show that the NHS in South Shields could build up a massive funding deficit of almost £40million by 2020-21.

Meanwhile, the UK is handing over £350million to Brussels every week, which could instead be spent on priorities such as the health service, on which we all rely.

Everyone in South Shields depends on hard-hit South Tyneside Hospital – and who would complain if its key services were protected and even enhanced with even better equipment and more nurses?

Economically the people of the town would benefit from a reduction in the business-strangling red tape and unnecessary regulations for which Brussels is renowned.

This hits home for small businesses in South Shields - a survey for YouGov/Business for Britain in January showed that by 54% to just 17% North East firms say the UK can trade and cooperate with the EU without giving away permanent control over our economy.

They also say - by 25% to 11% - that the EU makes it harder to take on staff, which is significant in an area that traditionally feels the pain of unemployment.

Even national companies represented in the town have joined the clamour for an exit.

Tim Martin, founder of pub chain Wetherspoons, which operates the Wouldhave pub in North Marine Park, is a keen campaigner for Brexit, and says he thinks Britain will be a more prosperous place if it can take back control of its own laws.

“You don’t need to be in the EU to run a successful business or to have a successful economy,” he told a paper earlier this year.

“Both Norway and Switzerland are two of the richest countries. They aren’t in the EU.”

The eighth most Eurosceptic town in the UK will have its say at the ballot box tomorrow – and it’s no stretch of the imagination to guess which way it will vote.

What will happen after that? History can provide a clue: South Shields has always been a self-reliant yet outward-facing town, thanks to its strong maritime trading traditions stretching back centuries.

Freed from the shackles of EU regulation, the town is ready and willing to make the most of the social and economic opportunities that will follow - both at home and further afield.