The newly elected MP for Ellesmere Port & Neston has called for the Government to press ahead with their referendum on EU membership as soon as possible after the head of Airbus in the UK warned that the company would reconsider its investment in the country if Britain left the EU.
Paul Khan, Airbus Group UK president said departure from the EU would be destructive with “enormous ramifications” for the UK’s long-term future. Airbus employs more than 16,000 people in Britain in highly skilled jobs, including nearly 500 in Ellesmere Port & Neston. A Bill is expected in the Queen’s Speech later this week which will pave the way for an EU referendum, expected to take place sometime in 2017. However, local MP Justin Madders called for the referendum to take place by 2016 at the latest.
Justin said “It was very clear from talking to people on the doorstep that the public want to have a say on this country’s future membership of the EU and I welcome the opportunity for a fair and full debate. However, as can be seen by the Airbus announcement there are significant risks to leaving the EU and these need to be explained and explored fully as part of the debate.”
“Airbus employ nearly 500 people directly in Ellesmere Port & Neston together with many others in support industries to Airbus. There will be other major employers in the area who may also be considering their position in the event of an EU exit. Almost half the investment that comes to the UK is from elsewhere in the EU and it is still our largest export market. Many countries outside the EU invest here because we are a gateway to Europe. And, as a non-Euro member, we have all the advantage of our own currency, but we still get full access to the single market with 500 million consumers across Europe.”
“There are significant economic benefits to being a member of the EU but also great social benefits too. For example, paid holidays and safe limits on the number of hours worked in a day and a week are derived from EU legislation. At the same time, however, there are significant areas where the EU could definitely be improved and I hope that David Cameron manages to secure agreement on major reform before the referendum takes place. I have to say the signs so far have not been encouraging; it is still not clear what his timetable is for negotiation nor what it is that he actually hopes to achieve from the process. He should set this out clearly now otherwise we will not be in a position to judge whether his negotiations have been a success or not.”
“The country needs a yardstick by which to measure his performance. We need a clear statement of his intentions at the outset so we know where this is heading. For example, limiting access to benefits for EU migrants coming to this country would appear to be one area which most people would support but if he were looking to remove our right to paid holidays or protection under Tupe legislation I suspect many people would be unhappy with that. We need a clear and unambiguous statement about what is up for discussion.”
“The timetable itself is the other area of concern. The longer the negotiations take the more uncertainty there is and the more risk there is of Company’s making big investment decisions that disadvantage our country. That is why we need to set a date for the referendum now, ideally within the next 12 months so that everyone knows where they stand and we don’t have a long period of instability. The onus really is on the Prime Minister to sort this out. He can clear his in tray, prioritise negotiations with other EU countries and give a clear lead to the country on this very important subject”.