John Tanner

Oxford Mail:

Oxford city councillor for Littlemore

Britain belongs in Europe and always will.

The European Union has brought nothing but good to Oxfordshire and it is where our future lies.

The only sensible vote on June 23 is to remain.

David Cameron’s pantomime in Brussels has changed very little. Cutting in-work benefits won’t stop immigration.

We all come to work in Oxfordshire because there are jobs. We stay here because it’s a great place to live. The rest of the renegotiation is window dressing.

It re-states Britain’s concerns about the City of London, the Euro currency and an odd objection to “an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe”.

What the Brussels talks showed was the desire of the other 27 nations to keep Britain at the heart of Europe.

They know that a Europe without the United Kingdom would be less influential and less successful in the world. Remaining in Europe is still Oxfordshire’s best hope for jobs, for fairness and for security.

Why would we walk away from our nearest neighbours, the world’s biggest market and a continent where the common language is English?

A vote to leave will damage Oxford’s car factory.

Its 4,000 jobs depend on regular investment from BMW in Germany and sales to the rest of Europe.

Leaving will threaten hundreds of science research jobs at Culham.

Siemens has warned that work on MRI scanners at Eynsham will suffer.

Oxford University has received a £200m loan from the European Investment Bank. Its vice-chancellor is strongly in favour of Britain remaining.

Anneliese Dodds, our Labour member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the South East region, has examined the figures.

Altogether 41,799 jobs in Oxfordshire are directly dependent on Britain remaining in the European club.

Half of Britain’s exports go to the rest of the Europe Union.

Outside, the British Government would no longer have a say on the EU trade rules.

The other EU nations could impose whatever restrictions they like.

But the European Union is not just about trade, investment and prosperity.

It is also about fairness. Parental leave, minimum holidays, equal treatment for agency workers, better consumer protection are all thanks to Brussels. The EU’s working time rules mean everyone is entitled to paid holiday, need not work over-long hours and that part-time workers are not discriminated against.

How long would those safeguards last under a Tory government once Britain was outside? We cannot tackle the big issues like terrorism or climate change on our own. We need to work closely with our European partners.

We need a common approach to issues like Syrian refugees and sanctions against Russia. Abandoning the European arrest warrant, no longer sharing information about criminals and terrorists would make Oxfordshire less safe.

Pollution does not respect borders and the battle for clean-air and low-carbon must be international.

Inside we can holiday in Spain or Greece just by showing our passports.

We can work or retire wherever we like within the European Union. Outside we would no longer have these rights and would have to apply for visas and permits. We can only tackle the international companies that won’t pay their fair share of tax within the EU. Even the prospect of a European referendum has seen the value of our pound plunge. Imagine what actually quitting the rest of Europe would do to the confidence of potential investors in Oxfordshire.

Of course Britain could stand alone but at a cost.

At less than 2p in every pound of tax we pay, the European Union is excellent value for money.

We would still want to pay subsidies to Oxfordshire famers even if we voted to leave. This EU referendum has never been about what’s good for Britain. It has always been about papering over Conservative differences on Europe.

A vote to leave would be bad for Oxfordshire, bad for Britain and bad for Europe as a whole.

Every vote will count.