Taking on UKIP over the EU

On Tuesday 26th April I went up against Nigel Farage and the Leave campaign about the EU. I made the case that our EU membership is vital for jobs, trade and investment and that Britain is stronger and has more influence when we work together with our European allies. You can hear my opening speech here and read the full speech below.


“By the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we do alone so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential.”

These words, written on Labour’s membership card, are why I joined my party.

And I believe they are as true for nation states, as they are for each of us here today.

The central argument made by those who want us to leave the EU is that Brexit will give Britain more control.

I couldn’t disagree more.

In world that’s more connected than ever before, real control – the power to shape our destiny rather than be left to the mercy of events – comes from working with our neighbours and allies to get the best for the British people.

President Obama was absolutely right last week when he said nations who wield influence most effectively do it through the collective action that today’s challenges demand.

Being a member of the EU gives Britain more influence and power, not less.

Not just the power to sell our goods to a market of 500 million people, according to rules that we help decide. Or to reach trade agreements as part of a stronger bloc of 28 countries.

But the power to act together when the rule of international law is challenged on our doorstep, like the sanctions regime following Russian aggression in Ukraine.

And the power to tackle global challenges like climate change – using our influence to secure a better deal within the EU, and the EU’s influence to get a better deal with the rest of the world.

Cutting ourselves off from our neighbours and allies in Europe, and attempting to ‘go it alone’, would diminish Britain’s power, not increase it.

And it would give us less control to shape our future, not more.

But whilst I care passionately about Britain’s influence and role in the world, in the end this referendum will come down to the central question of our economy, and whether we’ll be more prosperous in or out of the EU.

There is not a single serious, credible, independent organisation that thinks we’d be better off out.

The CBI says Brexit would cause a “serious shock” to our economy.

The World Bank, OECD, International Monetary Fund and IFS all agree our economy would take a hit.

Yet some of those who back Brexit – like Arron Banks – say even if there is an impact on our economy it’s “a price worth paying”.

I suppose at least he’s being honest.

But who will end up paying the price?

Not Mr Banks.

Not Dominic Cummings, who says there would “definitely be problems for some areas”.

Or Boris Johnson, who’s admitted there might be job losses.

No – it will be those who always suffer in an economic downturn: ordinary working people, the poor, the vulnerable and the low paid.

Jobs lost, incomes hit, businesses and families left struggling to cope with the consequences.

Slower growth and lower tax receipts reducing funding for the public services we all rely on.

And for what? A mere mirage of greater control.

No wonder our friends and allies are speaking out, like America, Canada and Australia.

That’s what you do when you’re worried a friend could take a decision that will harm them, and you.

Britain is stronger in the EU, and the EU is stronger with Britain as one of its members.

And who would cheer if we vote for Brexit? People like Vladimir Putin and Marine le Pen.

Nothing would please them more than to see Britain and the EU weakened.

I won’t play into their hands.

I know whose side I’m on.

The side of our true friends and allies, and the people I came into politics to serve.

Frank Field may be worried about taking on UKIP.

But I am not.

I’m under no illusions. We are in the fight of our lives.

The decision we take on June 23rd will define the future of our country: our economy, the jobs and investment we attract, our safety and security, and Britain’s role in the world.

Millions of people are yet to make up their minds on the biggest question facing our country in a generation – including Labour supporters.

They deserve to hear a strong and principled Labour campaign, making a strong and patriotic case for our membership of the EU.

And that’s what we’re determined to do.