Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Our priority should be jobs - not a referendum that would put jobs at risk

Once again we have been forced to witness an out-of-touch Conservative Party tearing itself apart over Europe. The government was always going to win the EU referendum vote, and Parliament has made the right decision. But David Cameron has been weakened both at home and abroad, at a time when what we really need is strong leadership.

In the current economic climate, the number one priority of all politicians should be boosting jobs and tackling the grave economic situation we face.  A referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union would not generate a single long-term job or do anything to help hard working families who are struggling to make ends meet.  In fact, if we seriously considered giving up our place in the most powerful trading bloc in the world, Britain would jeopardise its position as a credible world player and put foreign investment into the UK at risk.  And if the Eurosceptics were to win such a referendum, helped by the disproportionately anti-European press, it would be disastrous.  Approximately 3.5 million British jobs depend on Britain's access to the single market, and if we do not have a voice at the table where the common rules for that market are made, we will end up like Norway, implementing all European laws without having any say on their content.

Over the last few months, whilst the Conservative Party have been indulging in naval-gazing and internal disputes, Labour MEPs have been working hard to pass laws on bankers' bonuses, secure long term reform of the financial services sector,  reduce data roaming charges and secure new rights for Brits who fall victim to crime in other EU countries.  In order to get these results we actively and positively engage with our colleagues from different countries.

David Cameron needs to be doing the same.  The Eurozone crisis is our crisis too - but, having lost credibility with his counterparts, the Prime Minister is not showing the leadership we need.  At the last European Summit Nicolas Sarkosy is reported to have told Cameron to stop "interfering".  He desperately needs to focus on rebuilding relations with other EU leaders to deliver a stable solution to the Eurozone crisis. Jobs depend on it, and that is what really matters to the British people.

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