I believe that staying in the European Union is the right thing for Halifax and so I will be campaigning, and voting, for Britain to remain in the EU.
Before becoming an MP, I worked in export trade for a Halifax company for 4 years, before going on to work for one of Yorkshire’s Members of the European Parliament, so I’ve dealt with our membership from all sides.
When I worked in trade, it was my job to sell products, designed and manufactured in Halifax, all over the world. France was one of our biggest markets and we sold products to almost all of Europe’s member countries. However I also have experience of trying to find distributors and trade with the countries outside of the EU; emerging economies like Brazil for example. Brazil had an import duty of 30% on software which means that our products were just not competitive in that market. Not to mention all the additional paperwork, some of which had to be paid for, such as certificates of origin for example – all barriers to trade outside of the single market.
That job, and many others locally depend on trade with the single market. If we have to start trading with countries in Europe on terms like we have with Brazil, that would be devastating for our economy and consequently for jobs.
I am keen to examine exactly what Europe means to us Halifax. The Office for National Statistics has found that 1 in every 10 jobs is linked to our trade with the EU; that’s 3 million UK jobs. I am mindful that employers like Nestle export to 30 different markets from their factory in Halifax, so what will the referendum mean for them?
I will be meeting with local businesses between now and June to ensure that I can provide people with the very latest information about what membership means for Halifax business and jobs.
The EU has benefitted Halifax in ways that are not always obvious. Calderdale College’s new building was partly funded with European funding, providing opportunities to our young people that they won’t have otherwise had.
I am not prepared to put all this at risk by voting to leave the European Union. This is why I believe that Britain – that Halifax, is better off in.