Gloves off: Hornchurch and Upminster MP Angela Watkinson argues to stay in the EU
PUBLISHED: 07:00 23 May 2016 | UPDATED: 13:00 23 May 2016
The UK's membership of the EU is being discussed around the world. But when the Recorder asked for your views many said they wanted the key arguments to be set out, without rhetoric or grandiose claims.
We asked two Havering MPs, on either side of the debate, to help us do just that. Here are Hornchurch and Upminster MP Angela Watkinson's views.
What Angela Watkinson thinks about:
Dame Angela Watkinson said that being within the EU but not a part of the Schengen free movement zone is the “best of both worlds”
She said: “Even if Turkey is given access to the Schengen countries, Turks will not have access to the UK without a visa.
“If we leave the EU, we will still be affected by the mass immigration from Africa and the Middle East, but would not be party to the joint efforts to resolve the problem. We don’t know if France would allow us to maintain our border control at Calais if we leave. There is too much risk, too much uncertainty at a time of unrest in so many parts of the world.”
Jobs and the Economy
Dame Angela said renegotiating trade agreements could take years and it will not be possible to negotiate improved EU agreements as a non-member.
She said: “Between 3-4million UK jobs are linked to exports to the EU. We specialise in services and there is huge potential for developing the single market further in telecoms, energy, airspace, internet and e-commerce which will all benefit our economy.”
What do we get from the EU?
Dame Angela said: “It costs us £9.7billion to belong to the EU, but the collective benefits are estimated at £70-90bn – not a bad return.
“Canada is still negotiating to join the free trade area and its 500 million customers after eight years.
“But as with Switzerland, which took nine years, free trade with the EU includes non-negotiable free movement of people and skilled, educated EU migrants benefit our country and economy. Free movement also means that we can visit, travel, study, work and live in other EU countries.”
June’s referendum to determine the future of Britain’s membership of the EU is the most important decision we will ever make on the future of our country, said Dame Angela Watkinson.
The Hornchurch and Upminster MP, who is backing the remain campaign, said: “If we vote to leave the EU, it will take two years to unravel existing treaties.
“I worry about a predicted one third fall in the value of sterling, loss of inward investment and damage to the status of the City of London as the major financial hub in Europe during that period. The pound plummeted the day after the referendum was announced.”
The effect of a Brexit on the UK economy has been the subject of claim and counter claim from the two sides of the debate. But Dame Angela said that the leave campaign is guilty of “wishful thinking” when it comes to renegotiating trade deals.
She said: “Negotiating new trading arrangements with 27 EU countries and the 53 other countries with which we have free trade agreements could take years.
“The EU will not give us a better deal as a non-member than we have already – that is wishful thinking.
“Until new arrangements are agreed, tariffs and quotas will make our exports more expensive. Dairy products, for example carry a tariff of 36 per cent. That would be bad for business, jobs, house prices, mortgages and the price of food and goods in our shops.”
Many speeches have claimed that the cost of the EU to Britain is not worth the benefits gained, something Dame Angela strongly disagrees with.
She said: “It costs us £9.7billion to belong to the EU, but the collective benefits are estimated at £70-90bn – not a bad return.
Dame Angela also countered concerns that negotiations with Turkey to curb the migrant crisis would result in Britain’s borders being opened to the country’s residents.
She said: “The UK has opted out of the eurozone, ever closer political union and the Schengen, border/passport free area, so we have the best of both worlds.
“Even if Turkey is given access to the Schengen countries, Turks will not have access to the UK without a visa.
“Obtaining German (EU) citizenship takes seven years and migrants must work, speak German and have no criminal record during that period. To date only 2pc of migrants to Germany achieve this.
“The European Arrest Warrant has also streamlined extradition of terrorists and serious criminals, and co-operation and information sharing has aided tracing missing persons and stolen cars.”
Urging people to vote remain when they head to the polls on June 23, Dame Angela said: “We remain a proud, principled, liberal, democratic, strong trading nation.
“We can influence continued reform in a more flexible EU and are better off, stronger and safer in the EU.”
Read Romford MP Andrew Rosindell’s views for leaving the EU here.