Local MPs address Lyme Regis EU Referendum meeting

MPs Ben Bradshaw and Oliver Letwin with meeting chairman Rene Wyndham. Picture PETER WILES

MPs Ben Bradshaw and Oliver Letwin with meeting chairman Rene Wyndham. Picture PETER WILES - Credit: Archant

Labour and Tory MPs united on staying in the EU

Packed audience at Woodmead Halls for the referendum meeting. Picture: PETER WILES

Packed audience at Woodmead Halls for the referendum meeting. Picture: PETER WILES - Credit: Archant

Around 150 people turned out for a second EU Referendum meeting in Lyme Regis on Friday.

Organised by local volunteers for Britain Stronger in Europe West Dorset’s Conservative MP Oliver Letwin and Ben Bradshaw, Labour MP for Exeter, both spoke in favour of a REMAIN vote.

Mr Letwin, a self-confessed Eurosceptic, spoke of his central belief in free trade as the source of prosperity, adding that the Single Market is the most ambitious example of a multilateral free trading system in the world.

He said: “By being a member we also enjoy bilateral trade deals with 53 other countries with new deals with the US and Canada coming soon.

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“It is inconceivable that we would get as good a deal after BREXIT. We would have to make vast concessions, since trade with the UK is less important to other EU countries than trade with them is to our exporters.”

Mr Letwin said his scepticism had always centred on ambitions in many continental countries for moves towards greater political integration. The key, he said, is to have economic integration in the single market without being dragged towards a United States of Europe. He underlined that the new international law agreement reached by David Cameron achieves this by exempting us from ‘ever closer union’. It provides a legal basis for countries wishing to deepen the relationship to do so, while ensuring those that don’t – like the UK – do not have to. As an example, he stressed that the EU is now legally a multicurrency system.

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Ben Bradshaw, a long-term EU supporter, spoke about three positives: peace, prosperity and power.

“We should never take the success of the EU in preventing war between European countries for granted,” he said.

Mr Bradshaw also argued that since we joined the EEC in 1974 our growth rates have exceeded those of our neighbours, whereas before we joined we grew much less quickly than them. “This shows that EU membership has improved our prosperity,” he said.

Mr Bradshaw also argued that we magnify our power and influence as a country by pooling sovereignty with other EU countries. He pointed out that we pool sovereignty in NATO and the UN, too.

He summed up saying we should think about who wants us to leave – Trump, Farage and Putin – and who wants us to stay – all our allies including Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Most of the meeting was devoted to a lively question and answer session. Mr Bradshaw was challenged on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership but argued that the EU as a whole is much better placed to resist trade deal terms we do not like than the UK would be on its own.

Mr Letwin was asked whether BREXIT would make us safer from terrorism. He replied that good defence and security costs money, and if we hurt our economy by leaving, we will be less safe as a country.

Chairman and Uplyme resident, Rene Wyndham thanked the speakers for demonstrating a good example of cross-party consensus on a matter of truly national importance. Quoting Michael Heseltine, she asked people to remember that BREXIT is forever.

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