MEP and MP give their views on the EU referendum

The Union flag fluttering next to the EU flag Toby Melville/PA Wire

The Union flag fluttering next to the EU flag Toby Melville/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Coming from opposing camps, Great Yarmouth's Conservative MP Brandon Lewis, and UKIP's Stuart Agnew, MEP for the Eastern Counties, both present their views about the forthcoming EU Referendum.

• Stuart Agnew, MEP for the East of England - LEAVE

In 1972, we joined an institution called the Common Market which tied us into a Customs Union and a Common Agricultural Policy with about eight of the wealthier countries in Western Europe. After three years, there was a retrospective referendum on this arrangement, and the UK voted to stay with it.

Since then things have changed considerably. Five further Treaties have been signed that have, in each case, removed the power from our own elected politicians to propose legislation in defined areas and handed that power to a body called the European Commission.

Ideally, each of these Treaties should have been put to the British people in individual referenda, asking our consent to relinquish our power.

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This did not happen and we have steadily slipped into a situation where th Commission has the sole right to initiate new legislation in many policy areas, resulting in them proposing over 75pc of the legislation that governs us.

The Commission is a collection of unelected bureaucrats. The Commission never dies.

Our elected Government has consequently lost control of agricultural policy, fisheries policy, energy policy, environmental policy, VAT rates, fuel duty, long-term transport strategy, the unrestricted right to build new schools and hospitals, etc, with taxpayers' money, financial services regulation, the postal service and many others.

As well as taking more and more power, the EU has become far larger and there are now 28 countries in all, with a few others in the queue, including Turkey.

This expansion has had a massive impact on yet another power that we have given away; the ability to control our immigration policy.

We are the most densely populated country in Europe (having overtaken Holland).

At least three million people have exercised their right to come here, creating a severe strain on our infrastructure and causing a shortage of housing.

Some of these individuals are excellent workers but some are highly undesirable, however, their red passport gives them the right to avoid basic checks on criminal records, etc.

The EU project continues to roll on with the Eurozone countries increasing in number and increasingly voting as a 'block' in their own interest. We are being outvoted in this way and increasingly side-lined.

For these privileges we pay £55 million to the EU each day. A bad deal.

We have the opportunity to retake control of our country on June 23.

Let's vote leave.

• Brandon Lewis, MP for Great Yarmouth - REMAIN

After so many years, I welcome the fact that we will now have a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union, as promised in Conservative Party manifesto.

I will focus firstly on the local issues for Great Yarmouth before then noting the national impact of this vote. Here, I make the case for what I think is right for our area and our country and I am proud to have voted for the referendum that we are now delivering, but when that vote comes we will all have a chance to have our say: mine is just one vote.

Let me be clear about why our relationship with the EU matters for the economy of Great Yarmouth and Norfolk. We have international supply line businesses that are very important to us: energy producers, investors and supply chain companies employ thousands of people; and with nuclear decommissioning and offshore wind developing we have the prospect of far greater EU investment in the region. The new deal that the Prime Minister has agreed includes completion of the single market for energy, which is a huge economic opportunity for our area, allowing more suppliers into the UK market, lowering bills and increasing investment. Just this week, I met with an offshore energy producer to discuss their plans for the area, which will potentially create 1,000 new job in off shore wind and 1,500 in nuclear energy if it goes ahead, but would be put at risk by Britain choosing to the leave the EU, with the potential of 2,500 job losses.

Across Great Yarmouth, residents have raised concerns about the flow of migrants into the country. Now, thanks to the Prime Minister, a brake on EU migrants coming to Britain and claiming benefits ensures that our welfare system is not an artificial draw for people from the rest of the EU.

So called 'economic migrants' will not be able to claim the new unemployment benefit while looking for work in this country, and migrants who haven't found work within six months of being in the UK will be asked to leave. Migrants who do come here to work will have to wait four years until they have full access to our benefits system. Whilst I believe that some migration is necessary for jobs and growth within the UK, we do not want our benefits system acting as a lure.

A strong Britain in a reformed Europe gives us the best of both worlds. We are outside the Euro, and protected from deeper integration, but with full access to the single market and the Prime Minister has negotiated that British business will not be discriminated against by being outside of the Eurozone. We remain in the world's greatest trading block of over 500 million people, but are still outside the Schengen area and so are able to maintain our borders.

For those who make the argument that leaving would be in Britain's best interest, there are no clear plans as to what such an outcome would involve, hence the accusation of a 'leap in the dark'. Leaving would be bad for trade and investment – leaders of major British businesses have stated that leaving the EU would deter investment in the UK and it could take up to ten years to negotiate new trade deals with Europe following an exit. The G20 have warned that global economy will suffer 'a shock' if Britain votes to leave the European Union.

Arguably, the easy option for me would be to do what may seem popular. However, I have always taken the view that my job means doing what I think it right for Great Yarmouth and our country, doing what is right and doing what is popular do not always align.

I have always described myself as a Eurosceptic and I still would. I do believe there is much to do to make Europe more competitive and improve things, but I also feel we are a strong and powerful country and are best placed to force change from inside, avoiding all of the instability and economic turmoil that leaving risks.

This is not a decision I have taken lightly, but one I have given a great deal of thought to, and I strongly believe that with the reforms the Prime Minister has achieved in Brussels, Britain is stronger in a reformed relationship with the European Union.

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