South Shields MP backs Britain to remain in EU as borough gets set to go to the polls
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck has been busy canvassing views as the borough gets set to join the rest of Britain in heading to the polls for an historic EU referendum next Thursday.
The Labour politician says she understands anxiety over immigration levels - but says making a Brussels exit will make little difference as over half of the country’s migration numbers come from outside the continent.
She says the country should not close its doors to people or trade but insists The Government has been slow to tackle the issue.
Over 70% of readers of the Gazette and our sister titles The Sunderland Echo and Hartlepool Mail have called for britain to quit the EU in an on-line poll.
Mrs Lewell-Buck, the Shadow Minister for Communities and Local Government, said: “I’ve been knocking on doors for weeks now talking to people in the North East about the EU referendum and I am aware that some people – who have been let down by this government are compelled to vote Leave.
“Years of cuts to services and forced unnecessary austerity measures have taken their toll in the North East.
“UKIP and now Leave campaigners have latched onto this and using the language of division and blame have peddled the myth that all of this hardship is a result of EU immigration: it is not, it is the result of a heartless and uncaring Tory Government hell bent on destroying the North.
“The truth is over half of our migration comes from outside of the EU, so rules for asylum seekers, refugees and those outside of the EU seeking work will not change with a vote for leaving the EU.
I understand people’s concerns about immigration but we live in a modern economy and as a result we shouldn’t and I wouldn’t want us to close the doors to trade and people. The Government have been slow to act. They scrapped the fund set up under the last Labour Government to assist areas with high levels of immigration and have done nothing to build the infrastructure to ease the pressures new arrivals can bring on housing and school places; nothing to protect the undercutting of wages and nothing to ensure our border force is fully equipped to deal with immigration.
My biggest concern of all is that if people are using their referendum vote in the belief that it will make significant changes to immigration, they are going to be very disappointed.”
Mrs Lewell-Buck says she is basing her call to remain on the fact that thousands of jobs that hinge on trade with European members.
She added; “I am basing my vote to Remain on the fact that up to 160,000 jobs in the region rely on trade with the EU. I
“If we left the single market, growth could be at risk and businesses such as Nissan and Hitachi have said that they are only in the UK because we are part of the EU. The North East is the only English region with a trade surplus with the EU meaning we export more than we import.”
Mrs Lewell-Buck says the North East receives more EU funding than any other region with over £700m set to be ploughed into the area in the next five years.
She said: “The North East receives more funding from the EU than anywhere in the country. Over the next 5 years the North East will get £726 million in EU funds. We get back more than we put in. For every pound we put in we get £10 back in funding, investment and economic growth. And in the North East, because we are a net beneficiary, we also get our pound back!
The EU looks after the North East better than any Conservative Government ever has. A vote for Brexit means a vote for Boris Johnson as your next Prime Minster, who wants to privatise our NHS, Michael Gove who wants to privatise our schools and Iain Duncan Smith who oversaw some of the cruellest welfare cuts since Maggie Thatcher’s days.”