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Constituency Event in Portsmouth North
Ever since these islands made the decision to jump into the European Economic Community, back in 1975, with the Conservative Party a vanguard of that movement, our membership has always been a controversial issue, not only within this party, but across the whole country. There are things about it that we like, and there are things that we do not like. And most importantly, there are things about it that aren’t eh best for Britain. Like any organization, the European Union is certainly not a perfect institution.
But the question cannot be, is the European Union perfect. The question must be, is the United Kingdom stronger inside the European Union, or outside of it? And that is one that must be answered. This is a subject where I, personally, have experienced a long evolution process. Just a few years ago, as a backbencher, a freshman Member of Parliament, I did indeed vote for a referendum on the question of our European membership- a proposition that I not only supported, but would have, if it had passed then, campaigned to leave the European Union.
If you look at the question of whether Britain is stronger inside or outside the European Union, the answer that we are much stronger helping lead the world’s largest economic bloc than leaving it. We can engage in all kinds of speculation of what Britain would like on the outside, and all the drawbacks of leaving, but this question cannot fairly be answered unless we look at the benefits that the European Union provides the United Kingdom.
We should see the security benefits of being a member of the European Union. Our membership helps keep us safe. The ability to have guaranteed access to things like the European Arrest Warrant, ensure that criminals cannot escape justice. Unfortunately, with the age of technology dawning, a lot of crime and a lot of terror is cross-border, and that is something that simply cannot be ignored. And lastly, we must recognize that membership of the European Union helps keeps an integral part of this family, Northern Ireland, safe and secure. Having membership allows Northern Ireland to have a frictionless, a key feature of our constitutional system.
The economic benefits of the European Union are numerous as well. The nature of the European Union allows the world’s richest continent to be a barrier-free market for British workers, and farmers. Our strong auto industry, with factories across this country, makes plenty of money via trade. Even right in Portsmouth, the city that I am proud to have the great honor to represent in Westminster, our position as the gateway to Europe allows us to have things like the European Headquarters of IBM.
How much of an issue will this be going forward? I am not sure. I am not looking to divide the party, or further inject bitterness into important debates. But when my own views evolve, like they have, it is my total responsibility to ensure that the people who elected me are freshly aware of this. I will continue to work, of course, to ensure that Britain can continue to be a force for positive change within the European Union, to help reform ir to work better for workers at home in Portsmouth, and for people all across the United Kingdom.
Conservative Member of Parliament for Portsmouth North
Secretary of State for Public Services
Parliamentary Unknown- 11 points
Media Unknown- 19 points
Policy Novice- 21 points
Huh, we got a Sarah Wollaston in early, did we?
Don't get me wrong these are good arguments for the European Union and debatably arguments Europhiles are going to need repeatedly and vociferously to make their case, and this supposed switch will gather some press buzz - on the live platform (the other place, so to speak) we saw politicians from across the political platform give this speech buzz, but I do feel if you played a Eurosceptic who had this change of heart more openly it would've had more force. Still, not bad.