Here’s one person who’s prepared to be joyfully enthusiastic about our remaining a member of the European Union. Somebody needs to get away from the grinding negativity of both sides in the referendum campaign and state boldly why they are proud that Britain is in the EU and would be ashamed if we left.

Yes ashamed that a country like ours with so much to give to the EU in terms of common sense and our different perspective, should turn its back on our 27 friends and try our luck in an uncertain world.

I am proud that two million Brits are comfortable working in the EU, that many of our elderly are able to move easily to Spain to get some sun in their retiring years and that British Ministers and MEPs are at the negotiating table when trade negotiations are done. We are not done down all the time in these votes by the way. 95% of the time our partners see it our way.


The North has benefited hugely from its EU membership. Merseyside was pulled back from the brink of collapse by the EU regional and structural funds. We remain a major recipient of such aid currently worth £800m. Leave claim it is “our” money coming back. However there was no guarantee British governments would have given Merseyside that priority, indeed Mrs Thatcher’s administration was advised to manage the decline of Liverpool.

The International Festival of Business(IFB) is about to start in Liverpool. It is supported by organisations like Downtown and the North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT). The conference continues right through the drama that will be Referendum Day so will provide a fascinating forum for instant business reaction to a result that could have momentous consequences for northern business. Our own Chief Executive Frank McKenna has made his position clear on wanting to remain and the NWBLT is now putting its shoulder to the Remain wheel. Its Chief Executive, Geoffrey Piper points out that the Midlands and North are most dependent upon our trade links with Europe particularly in respect of the car and engineering sectors. Membership of the Single Market (which Leave now admit we couldn’t be part of) gives us real clout with the rest of the world.

Piper addresses the argument of Leave that there is a world beyond the EU waiting to do deals with an isolated Britain. He points out that the major trade negotiation with the US and others, like Japan, will soon mean that 80% of the world will be covered by EU agreements. He concludes we would get less favourable global deals on our own.

Freeing ourselves from EU red tape is the cry of Leave, superficially attractive to any business person. But this “red tape” usually ensures that workers aren’t exploited over their hours, that they get maternity/paternity leave, that machines are safe and products reliable. As Piper points out there is one set of regulations for 28 countries. Leave and we’d soon be in a blizzard of red tape.

The NWBLT also address the thorny issue of immigration with a brave assertion that, whilst the vast majority of our northern workforce is recruited from UK nationals we do need specialists from the EU in the boardroom and staff from the EU to keep the NHS running.


Whatever NWBLT, Downtown, most economists and international organisations think, the polls are showing Leave edging ahead. Immigration is becoming more salient than economic common sense.

Everyone who believes in 28 nations bound together in harmony and with a common purpose must get out and campaign for Remain. That’s especially the case with Labour and young Remain supporters. Every vote is going to be vital. It will be very close and there is no going back from Brexit.



  1. Jim’s position is very clear. He does not trust the politicians he helps to elect in the UK. He is happy with the direction of the EU which is always and ever towards a country called Europe, run by an elite bureaucracy where British voices will not be heard. It is difficult to reconcile this with a belief that power should be devolved from Westminster if you want to centralise it in Brussels. If you want a Northern Powerhouse why not a UK Powerhouse?

    But the EU project is failing. It is difficult to be idealistic about a system that has imposed such terrible suffering on Greece.

    The British public wasn’t asked if they wanted mass immigration. Their concerns were long dismissed as racist. Yet the evidence is clear. While mass immigration is great for people like me, it’s not so great for the unskilled and semi skilled living in rented accommodation. We know about the pressure mass immigration puts on schools and hospitals and housing.

    One big divide in UK life is between the have-their-own houses and those who are the have-no-house-of-their-own. Nigel Farage said on TV that with mass immigration at the present level we would have to build one new house very four minutes to meet demand. The ITN fact check said he was wrong. It was one every 8 minutes.

    With uncontrolled immigration people like me who own their homes know their kids and grandkids have every chance of getting on the housing level. We can help fund them. Tough on the rest.

    Now Labour is accused of ignoring its supporters concerns over immigration. But it has little choice. The
    fact is that if we remain in the EU there is nothing their politicians can do to reduce immigration. They have no power to change anything in relation to a major concern of their supporters. That is what we mean when we talk of the EU eroding sovereignty.

    Tonight Channel 4 did what so often the Remain supporters do in the debate about immigration. They pointed out how much the NHS, for example, depends on immigrant workers. So what? If we leave we’ll still
    take doctors and nurses from the EU. And in fact from other countries. That is what control means. It does not mean an end to immigration.

    It means controlling numbers so we can properly plan the new hospitals and schools and houses we need. And hold our elected politicians accountable if they fail us.

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