Following his visit to Perkins factory in Peterborough, Prime Minister David Cameron has supplied an exclusive article for the Peterborough Telegraph in which he makes the case for remaining in the EU.
More than 80 years ago, a brilliant engineer called Charles Chapman and a visionary businessman called Frank Perkins joined forces to build what would become one of the world’s most famous engine manufacturers.
Today, the company they founded, Perkins, is still based in Peterborough. Now part of global machinery giant Caterpillar, the manufacturing site here employs some 2,700 people working in a variety of roles.
Back in the 1930s when it all began, Perkins made just a few hundred engines a year, all for the home market. Since then, more than 20 million have rolled off Peterborough’s production line and, today, many thousands of diesel, gas and electric power systems are built here every year, most of them for export.
So the engines built in Peterborough are not just world-class, they are world-renowned. The skilled hands employed here are responsible for powering lorries, tractors, construction vehicles and other equipment across the globe. It is a great British success story.
But there is one market in particular which represents by far the biggest destination for these products: the European Union. Fifty per cent of all products manufactured at Caterpillar’s Peterborough site are exported to EU countries and – like all goods and services traded between us and the rest of the EU – they benefit from completely tariff-free trade.
This company is by no means an isolated case. In 2014, more than 56 per cent of goods exported from the East of England were sold in the EU. And some 300,000 jobs in this region are linked to our exports in Europe – that’s 3 million jobs across the UK.
Now, I am not by any means a Brussels enthusiast – I believe in Britain and I want what’s best for Britain. But you don’t need to be some kind of Euro-fanatic to recognise the economic benefits we get from being a member of this hugely important single market.
As we approach 23rd June, when as a country we will go to the polls to decide whether to remain members of the EU or go it alone, it is important to consider these facts and think about what they mean for you and your family.
Campaigners who want to walk away from the single market say they’ll negotiate a new deal – but the trouble is they can’t explain what it would be or how long the process would take. The truth is, if we left, the EU would not give us a better arrangement than they have for themselves – so a vote to leave cannot be anything other than a vote for risk.
The economic shock that will hit our country if we choose to leave will be far reaching, and in the long term we will be permanently poorer. As recent Treasury analysis shows, leaving the EU will reduce Britain’s GDP by around 6 per cent, the equivalent of £4,300 for every household in the country.
And, of course, that downturn and slower growth would also feed through to the public finances, hitting tax revenues and leaving us with less money to fund important services. We would be left with a £36 billion black hole in the public finances.
In other words, jobs won’t be safe, prices will rise, mortgages will be at risk, and even funding for your local school and hospital will fall.
In contrast, a vote to stay in the EU is a vote for certainty. We will be stronger, safer and better off in Europe because we’ll get to keep access to the single market of over 500 million people – that single market which helps big employers like Perkins and so many others trade freely.
It also means we will continue to have a say over the rules of doing business across Europe. That means more jobs, lower prices, and better financial security for families here in Peterborough and nationwide.
I’ve been in politics long enough to know that I can’t bring everyone around to my views. But if you don’t want to listen to me, then listen instead to the large and growing collection of independent experts, trusted organisations, businesses, trades unions and friends of Britain from around the world, all saying the same thing: the UK is better off in Europe.
From the President of the United States, to the Governor of the Bank of England, to the General Secretary of the Unite union, to the Prime Minister, to the Leader of the Opposition – we may all come from very different backgrounds or political traditions, but we are all sounding the same warning about the impacts of abandoning our relationship with Europe.
That’s because the choice in the referendum is this: economic security as part of the EU or a leap in the dark out on our own.