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January 22, 2013 - Bill Esterson's Westminster Diary

Bill Esterson

Like all local people in Formby and Crosby  I am worried about the state of our economy. People are worried about their jobs and our high streets are in crisis.

Our economy is stagnating and unemployment is too high.

That’s why I am so concerned that because the Prime Minister is too weak to control his own party on Europe. By promising a referendum  in five years' time he risks creating years of economic uncertainty that will put investment and jobs at risk – just at the time when we need them most.

Of course, I know that there are many differing views on the European Union and I hear them from my constituents.

I am clear that the EU needs to change and work better for people here in Britain.

But the real tragedy of David Cameron’s approach is that David Cameron’s Party won’t let him address the need for change in the EU in a sensible and pragmatic way.
David Cameron says he wants to be in the EU but for many in his Party, getting David Cameron to commit now to an in/out referendum is not about consent, but about exit.

Sadly it seems we have a British Prime Minister sleepwalking towards the exit, knowing he is letting down the national interest, but too weak to do anything about it.

Labour’s approach is that to get the best deal for Britain we need to be round the table with our allies in Europe, not shouting from the sidelines with one foot already out of the door.

It simply doesn’t make sense to leave the largest trading bloc in the world and give up the ability to influence the rules of the market where almost half of all UK exports end up. There are too many jobs which depend on our trade with other European countries for our Prime Minister to take such a cavalier approach.

Business leaders from across the country are clear that leaving the EU would be bad for jobs and bad for our economy. In an open letter earlier this month, the heads of some of the UK’s largest companies warned of the damaging uncertainty the announcement of a referendum would do. It will scare off investment and the companies that bring jobs here at the very time we need them most.

European unity is not – and must not – be about never ending union towards common federal government or the merging of national identities into a United States of Europe.

Instead, Labour’s vision of Europe is a flexible Europe with a common political framework that can permanently accommodate varying levels of integration amongst Member States.

There is so much that we can do to make Europe work us – from tackling cross-border crime and making sure that murderers and paedophiles who have committed crimes in the UK don’t escape justice for technical reasons of being outside the EU.

But Labour is clear, Europe needs to change – and that is why we are calling for reforms that will help make the EU more focused on promoting jobs and growth – like reducing and reforming the EU Budget and having a European Commissioner with sole responsibility for promoting Growth in the EU.

And yes that would mean here in Sefton, we can have a better deal, more funds to create more jobs and build a better local economy.

We will also have to deal with how we can encourage Britons to go and work in Europe if that is what they want to do, but also make sure that we manage much better when others come to our country, and what benefits they are entitled to when they do.

So Labour will make the hard headed, patriotic case, founded on the national interest, both for Britain in Europe, and for change in Europe.

When there is so much for us to do to get Britain back on its feet again, allowing ourselves to be pushed away from the main tasks at hand, of creating jobs and growth would be taking a reckless gamble with our country’s future. .

Clearly David Cameron is a Prime Minister imprisoned by party interest, so it falls to Labour to stand up for the national interest.


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