Have you decided how to cast your European election vote? A quick-fire five questions round with the top candidates of the five main parties
We asked the top candidates of the five main parties five questions. Here is what they had to say...
We asked the top candidates of the five main parties hoping for seats in the upcoming European elections on Thursday five questions. Here is what the Eastern region candidates had to say...
Should Britain should be in, out or part of a reformed EU – how will a vote for you achieve this?
Conservative lead candidate Vicky Ford: It depends on shape of the reform. No to a federal Europe but yes, potentially, to a reformed single market with less EU red tape, less EU waste and less expense. We need powers back on justice and migration decisions too.
Liberal Democrat lead candidate Andrew Duff: Britain should remain in the EU, but make more of its membership. Toying with leaving risks losing jobs, trade and clout in world affairs. The UK out of Europe would be a meaner, less attractive place.
Labour lead candidate Richard Howitt: Reform from within. By being part of a large party grouping in Brussels, Labour’s on the winning side more than twice as much as the Tories or UKIP. We wield real influence to win change for Britain.
UKIP lead candidate Patrick O’Flynn: We need to get out of the EU and become a self-governing country in charge of its own borders again. UKIP is the only major party that wants Britain to get out. A vote for us is a vote to leave the EU.
Green lead candidate Rupert Read: We say yes to a referendum, yes to staying in the EU - and yes to major reform. Key in achieving that will be a tilt in the balance of power away from the unelected Council of Ministers and European Commission and in favour of a stronger European Parliament. Green MEPs already form a group larger than that to which the Conservatives or UKIP belong. We’ll work for a Europe more in touch with the interests of people like you, rather than those of the international corporate lobbyists who like things run on a business-as-usual basis.
The best thing about the EU for the East?
Conservative Vicky Ford: For me it’s our local role in the international science community which is helping to find cures for diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer and clever solutions for huge global challenges like food and energy security.
Liberal Democrat Andrew Duff: The East of England profits hugely from its closer engagement with the rest of Europe. Our science R&D is top of the European league. Our efforts to lead in green technologies are sustained by the EU. Thanks to the CAP, East Anglian farms are now among the most competitive and productive in Europe.
Labour Richard Howitt: £1 billion EU funding helping business, unemployed people, education and the environment, in which I’ve consistently been the main one of the local MEPs to work for and to achieve.
UKIP Patrick O’Flynn: A tough one for me – I guess I’d say the fact that we get some of our money back. But of course we are ordered how to spend it and expected to be grateful!
Green Rupert Read: After this winter’s unprecedented floods we all know we must stop further deterioration of our climate. Green MEPs have won tougher climate change targets, have helped to legislate for cleaner beaches and water quality and cleaner air. All of these provide tangible benefits for us, here in the East. ...And Green MEPs have secured a cap on bankers’ bonuses.
The worst thing about the EU for the East?
Conservative Vicky Ford: Heavy handed top-down EU laws which burden business. Cross border criminal activity is also a growing concern so we need firm action on those who evade UK laws and exploit benefits.
Liberal Democrat Andrew Duff: Some EU legislation is too intrusive, especially for small business. The EU is not perfect, indeed, but far too many Brits are lazily marching to the beat of the nationalist drum.
Labour Richard Howitt: How the Conservative-led Government in Britain is able to block EU funds I’ve helped to win to support our local foodbanks, to get young people into work and secure compensation for last winter’s flood victims. Quite simply they don’t want Europe - or Labour - to get the credit.
UKIP Patrick O’Flynn: Where do I start? A total lack of immigration controls in respect of more than two dozen countries and more than 400 million people on continental Europe.
Green Rupert Read: The EU’s failure to overcome the sense of disconnection felt by so many voters in this country towards it. That’s why I’m excited about this election, and by the people, some of them who have never voted before, who have said that they are coming out to vote for me.
When I get to/ get back to the European Parliament the first thing I will push for is…
Conservative Vicky Ford: A specific and detailed timetable of negotiations to deliver reforms before we have our referendum.
Liberal Democrat Andrew Duff: The first job of the new MEPs is to elect a new President of the European Commission, who must be an improvement on Mr Barroso. (I will vote for the European Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt.) Then we’ve got to finish the job of sorting out the bad banks and creating conditions for new jobs, especially for young people.
Labour Richard Howitt: A change in the austerity policies that have held back recovery for business and inflicted cuts at unacceptable human cost. Time too for the EU to review competition between energy companies to build on Labour’s promise to freeze energy bills for everyone suffering the cost of living crisis here at home.
UKIP Patrick O’Flynn: To close it down.
Green Rupert Read: An unlocking of the huge potential for the east with its long coastline to play a leading role in the shift towards renewable energy sources, developing wave and tidal energy as well as wind and solar. This will be a win-win-win: good jobs, green energy AND enhanced protection against flooding.
A vote for me will…
Conservative Vicky Ford: ...make sure that the keys to the Bank of England will never be handed over to Brussels and that we start the process of returning powers to Britain, whilst also keeping a strong voice at the negotiating table for British businesses.
Liberal Democrat Andrew Duff: ...keep in the Parliament the region’s most pro-European voice, committed to continuing the process of deep democratic reform. I want to make Britain part of the solution to Europe’s problems – and not, as now, always part of the problem.
Labour Richard Howitt:...re-elect a hard-working Euro MP who always seeks to serve his constituency, joined by more MEPs from a Labour Party which doesn’t just protest - it provides a genuine alternative. Labour’s priority is jobs and growth not taking Britain towards EU exit.
UKIP Patrick O’Flynn: ...really, really annoy the establishment politicians from the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems. Go on, you know you want to.
Green Rupert Read: ...be a vote for hope, not fear. A vote for tackling problems at source, not scapegoating others in pursuit of a quick fix. A vote for investment in green jobs: in public transport, renewable energy and stopping waste, in local agriculture; for better food, cleaner air, safer streets and a higher quality of life; a stand against nuclear weapons and nuclear power, against big bonuses for bankers, against politics-as-usual.