Prime minister David Cameron: Voting to leave would send the region into economic shock
- Credit: PA
With the referendum now just nine days away, I want to speak directly to people across East Anglia, which is why I'll be visiting Norwich today to answer questions from voters. People want to know: what does this referendum really mean for me? How will it affect my life? What impact will it have on my children and grandchildren?
My view, supported by a huge number of experts and independent organisations, is that we are stronger, safer and better-off inside a reformed Europe. Leaving would risk our security and make it harder for us to get things done in the world to advance our interests. But above all, leaving would cause economic pain for people in the East of England and beyond. We're better off in. Here are just three reasons why.
Reason one is the immediate economic shock that leaving would cause. It would likely cause a recession – meaning lost jobs. Fewer new homes would be built and mortgage costs would go up, as local housebuilders Norfolk Homes and Hopkins Homes have warned, damaging the local construction industry. And prices in the shops would rise. This would be a recession entirely of our own making – but we can avoid this pain by voting to remain.
Reason two is our access to the single market. The East of England is a gateway for trade with the continent. Businesses have invested here and created thousands of jobs here in part because they are able to sell easily to the rest of Europe. Around 300,000 jobs in the East of England are linked to our exports to the EU – and we could see many thousands more created over the next decade as the single market is expanded and new trade deals are signed. But if we left, we'd be out of that single market.
No alternative arrangement would be anywhere near as good– and that means one thing: jobs are on the line.
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We'd also see slower growth and lower wages, leaving us all worse off for decades – by around £4,300 per household.
Reason three is the investment the East of England receives from the EU. Not just important grants for life sciences, research and technology projects, but also for agriculture. Today, this region receives almost £300 million in grants for farming from the EU, in a sector that supports almost 40,000 jobs. If we left, this money cannot be guaranteed. As long as I am prime minister, I would try to ensure that an agricultural support system would be maintained.
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But all the experts argue that leaving the EU wouldn't save us money; it would cost us money, because a smaller economy means less tax revenue. Savings would have to be made.
And there would be nothing to stop a future government from removing this support altogether. New figures released this week show that, without it, more than 3,000 farms in the East of England would be unable to break even. That's almost one in five farms in the region.
So the choice is clear: a vote to leave is a vote for risk, recession, instability and fewer jobs – a leap in the dark that will affect every family and business in this region.
But a vote to remain is a vote for more jobs, more investment, more opportunities, lower prices and stability for our country.
So let's choose that future. Let's think about the future prospects of our children and grandchildren. And let's vote to remain on June 23.
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