Local MP and MEP set out their stall for remaining in the EU

As part of the Mercury’s EU referendum coverage, we spoke to two leading figures in the REMAIN camp about why they believe the UK is better off in the EU.

Brandon Lewis, Conservative MP for Great Yarmouth, said he thought the referendum was the most important decision in a generation.

Mr Lewis said: “Over 300,000 jobs in the East of England are linked to the EU, providing financial security for local people and families. Local agriculture employs 40,000 people and relies on exporting to the EU.

“And 53pc of exports from the East of England go to Europe, worth £11.4 billion for the regional economy.

“In Yarmouth, European energy producers, investors and supply chain companies employ hundreds of local people; and with nuclear decommissioning and offshore wind developing, we have a real opportunity for far greater EU investment in the region.

“I know that for local residents, there are concerns about the flow of migrants into the country.

“That’s why Britain has negotiated a brake on EU migrants coming here and claiming benefits ensures that our welfare system is not an artificial draw for people from across the EU.

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“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.

“Leaving the EU is a leap in the dark and would mean years of uncertainty for jobs and businesses. The resulting economic shock would put pressure on the pound, meaning higher prices and lower living standards.”

Richard Howitt, Labour MEP for the East of England, said he believed Europe was essential for trade and industry.

Mr Howitt said: “The EU can help deliver jobs and prosperity. In particular in Yarmouth as there is a proud offshore industry.

“Older people might look back to how things were. They should see this as a vote for their children and grandchildren’s generation.

“In order to promote and defend British interests it is important to work with Europe and the world.

“Being in the EU gives us more clout when standing up to countries like China over the dumping of steel, which drives down the price of our exports affecting British steel.

“The UK is a country of just over 60 million. China has a population over 1.4 billion. Speaking as a member of the EU, Britain is part of a group of over 500 million people.

“We don’t have open borders. We opted out of borderless travel and the EU’s asylum policy. If we left the European Union refugees would still try to come to Britain.

“If we were to leave then British border guards would not be allowed on foreign soil.

“I think what people in Yarmouth want is a system that is controlled, managed and fair. There are two million British people living in the rest of Europe, if we did simply send EU citizens back we would find two million Brits back.”

The deadline for registering to vote in the European Union referendum is Tuesday, June 7. You can register online at: www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. Alternatively, a paper form can be requested by phoning 01493 846327 or by sending an email to elections@great-yarmouth.gov.uk