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Pat Glass MP's speech to Labour North Conference 2016


Speaking to Labour North Regional Conference 2016 in Newcastle upon Tyne, Pat Glass MP, Labour's Shadow Europe Minister said: 

I want to talk today about the case to remain in the EU. I am going to leave it to others or to the Q&A to talk about the logistics of the campaign.

This referendum is the single most important decision that will be taken in this Parliament. It will impact on this and future generations; it will have profound implications for our future prosperity, jobs, security and our place in the world.

Labour’s case to remain will be focused on 3 key issues
The economic case
The strength and security case and
Britiains place in the world

But we will be going far beyond that
We will be making the economic and the emotional case to remain
And we will increasingly be talking about ‘project hope’ - making it absolutely clear that we are not voting to remain in the EU as it is but as it can be, what we need it to be, what we hope it will be.

The issues that we are campaigning on may on the surface appear to be similar to those thatCameron is campaigning on but they are not

When Cameron talks about the economic case to remain in the EU he is talking about the City of London and big business and financial services

We are talking about jobs – good jobs, millions of jobs, hundreds of thousands of jobs here in this region that are directly or indirectly dependent upon our membership of the EU

Despite the growing importance of the service and financial sectors particularly in the South East Britain remains a manufacturing country. EU trade is worth £400bn to the UK annually,

52% of what we export nationally as a country goes directly to the EU,

around 75% in this region where our reliance on the EU is much greater than in most other regions.

We paid £6bn to the EU last year and received £400bn in trade in return,

and we received £1.2Tn in investment last year because we are a gateway to markets in the EU.

In the North East our reliance on trade within the EU is even greater. We are the only region of the Country that has a positive trade surplus. In this region we still make things and we export the things we make mainly to the EU.

Last year we made more cars in one month in 1 city in the North East than that great car building country, Italy, made in a whole year, and we export most of those cars to the EU. Anyone who goes to the Port of Tyne or Teesport will see line after line after line of cars waiting to be exported to the EU. Hundreds of thousands of jobs in the NE rely directly or indirectly on our membership of the EU.

Industries like car manufacture, chemical, mechanical and structural engineering all remain strong in the NE and most exports go directly to Europe.

I am told that there are now more people in Consett in my constituency working in small, bespoke, high end engineering companies than ever worked at Consett Steel works and they are mainly exporting to Europe

We in the North East get more £ or £ out of the EU than we put in and that has been true for every year of our 40 year membership.

Our membership is therefore vital on all kinds of levels.

‘Brexit’ campaigners make a completely unrealistic and unsustainable argument that the UK can simply walk away from the EU and yet magically retain access to markets and trade agreements that exist precisely because of our membership of the EU.

Much is made of the ‘Norway’ and ‘Switzerland’ deals when in reality these countries pay the same as we do per head to access the single market, yet they must abide by EU regulations and rules on trade and free movement of people, and they have no say whatsoever over those rules and regulations.

‘Brexit’ campaigners are determined to leave the EU at whatever cost to Britain’s economy and the rights of workers, and they deliberately hide behind issues such as migration and nationalism to persuade voters to support their position.

However they have no answers to concerns about Russian expansionism,

the future of the Irish peace process if borders between the South and North of Ireland have to be reintroduced,

to international terrorism and climate change and other international problems that know no boundaries.

If England votes to leave the EU and Scotland votes to remain that could well be the starting gun to the break-up of the UK so it will not be plucky little Britain standing outside the EU it will be an increasingly isolated England on its own in an increasingly troubled world.

We in Labour will be making the patriotic case to remain in the EU.

We want to see Britain standing strong and leading in Europe.

We do not believe that the EU is perfect, far from it and therefore we will be campaigning for a more socially progressive Europe that works for people,

where we can build on our rights as workers,
tackle the curse of zero hour contracts,

work together to deal with tax avoidance across the EU because we cannot hope to tackle the Googles of this world alone

and perhaps most pressing we want to see the EU properly deal with both the root causes and the effects of the current migration crisis hitting our world.

The countries of the middle east and the European Union are now confronted by the biggest refugee crisis since the end of the second world war.

In the past 12 months alone, more than 1 million people have entered the EU by sea, mostly from Turkey to Greece. The only way to deal with the crisis is to work with our European neighbours and other countries affected in the region, rather than having a situation of individual countries trying to find individual solutions to what is clearly a collective challenge.

Most importantly we need to remember that we are talking about fellow human beings in the most difficult of circumstances. people who are frightened, tired and fearful—
vulnerable women, children and old people,
people that Cameron referred to as a “bunch of migrants”.

As politicians, as human beings, we have a duty to recognise the importance of the language that we use. We know the lessons of history, that de-humanising language puts vulnerable people at massive risk. These are people in need of help. They are not just a “bunch of migrants”
We want to see the EU coming together to help tackle the root causes of this crisis: the slaughter of the Syrian civil war – to work with others in the region and our partners across Europe and the US to strengthen the ceasefire and put an end to the slaughter and not to shut our borders to the needy and the desperate and simply look the other away

Finally I want to talk about how we win this campaign. Ultimately we can bandy economic numbers back and forth with UKIP and the Euro-sceptics but that will not win the referendum. It will just turn voters off

We need to make the emotional as well as the economic case, we need to reach out to what we believe the EU can be and not what it is if we are to make this campaign positive and win

In order to do that we need civil society to step up and make the emotional case for Europe – Students for Europe, the military for Europe, grandmothers, daughters, teachers and churches all arguing the case for a safer, stronger and more prosperous future leading in Europe. And that is beginning to happen. This week we have seen Stephen Hawkins leading 150 of our top scientists firmly making the case for remaining in the EU and pointing out the risks and dangers to our scientific community and our future innovation of leaving the EU

We have to remind people that the over-riding principal aim in establishing the EU was peace. Up until 1945 we in Western Europe committed genocide on one another every 30 years and whilst the EU is not the only reason why there has been peace in Western Europe for the last 70 years it remains the single most important reason.

I understand that the EU is not the only reason that my son is not lying in a cold, unmarked grave outside Ypres or Thiepval, unlike my great grandfather and his brother, two young miners from this region aged 25 and 22 who died within 6 weeks of one another in 1915.

The EU is not the only reason why we now settle out our differences around a negotiating table and not on a battlefield but it remains the one main reason.

I did a bit of research on the internet looking up wars in western Europe since 1700- there are 6 pages and 198 major conflicts listed. 198 major wars in western Europe in 300 years. The UK was not involved in all but was involved in many. That’s a lot of wasted, destroyed, prematurely interrupted young lives.

So to all the young people out there today I want to say to you that this is peace in your time – it would not be me or David Cameron or Jeremy Corbyn or anyone from my generation on the front line today it would be you so this is about you and your future and your children’s future.

In an increasingly unsafe and unstable world, in which Russian expansionism has re-emerged as a danger to world stability, in which we see terrorism exported across the world and groups like Isil Daesh corrupting young minds and destroying lives wherever they go we need to reinforce that Britain’s future safety and stability lies firmly at the heart of Europe.

I also believe that for families like mine and yours, whose young men lie in graves all over western Europe, we need to reinforce the sacrifices they made – remember all those 198 battles and those who fought and died in them – some whose names we don’t remember but some we do - Crimea, Prussia, the Somme, Verdun, Ypres, Normandy – it is our testament to all those who fought and died to make sure that we do not sleepwalk into letting this happen again.

Finally on the issue of immigration we need to make our voices strong and heard. One of the fundamental strengths of this country, one of the things that make us the strong, successful, great country that we are is our ability to absorb and integrate, over centuries, millions of migrants , some fleeing oppression, some, like my family, fleeing famine but many more who have come to this country simply to make a better lives for themselves and their families.

People who came to this country to work

People who raised their families decently here

People who worked for this country,

paid their taxes

Fought for this country

Some of whom even died for this country

That is part of what has made us the great country we are and will continue to make us the successful, rich, great country that we remain

And that is how we are going to win this referendum by appealing to what is good in the British people, what has made us strong over centuries and what will continue to see us leading in Europe

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