Stay or Leave? 23 Peterborough speakers have their say on the June 23 vote
On June 23, the UK makes a big decision on whether it wants to remain in the European Union or separate itself from the political and monetary body.
The issue has divided the country, including the Government, and the daily glut of polls suggests that the vote is currently too close to call.
In Peterborough, a poll suggested the city was the second most Eurosceptic place in the country, behind only the London borough of Havering.
However, the scarcity of people who took part in the poll does not guarantee that Peterborough will vote to leave the EU in a fortnight, and visits from David Cameron and Nigel Farage show that there are many hearts and heads to be won over.
For many, a decision on how to vote has not yet been made. So the Peterborough Telegraph spoke to 23 people with links to the city, whether they live here, work here, hire people here, own a sports club here, or represent you in Parliament.
Those interviewed bring their own perspective to the debate, and to spare you from the bluster which puts many off politics, we have asked them to limit their views to around 50 words.
As expected, there is a clear split in opinion, and the disagreements among the Conservative Party are as true in Peterborough as they are nationally.
If you are currently unsure on how to vote then hopefully the following 23 speakers might give you a clearer insight on what a vote to stay and
a vote to leave might mean. The Peterborough count for the EU referendum will take place at Kingsgate Conference Centre in two week’s time.
IN: Cllr John Holdich, Leader of Peterborough City Council: From the investigations I have done, leaving Europe will affect the British economy, lead to the loss of jobs, affect pay and pensions and, as I understand it, we will not be able to sell financial services in Europe. If we leave it could lead to the break-up of the UK.
OUT: Tony Francis, branch secretary, Peterborough branch of the Royal British Legion: Without jumping on the immigration bandwagon, we as a country should look after our country and our forces and we have not been doing that. If we vote to stay there will be one military force which is a very wrong thing to do. We need to keep our British forces.
UNDECIDED: John Bridge, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce: We asked businesses how they would vote. 63% indicated they would vote to remain, 27% said they would vote to leave and 10% were undecided. Right now many feel that they simply don’t know what they’re voting for and are becoming disillusioned by the increasingly futile Punch and Judy show.
IN: Joseph Wells, Peterborough Green Party spokesman: I’m voting Remain because I believe in a freer, fairer society, where we can work in harmony with one another and look forward to the wider, long term benefits the EU has to offer. We should remain in an EU that promotes environmental protection and generates hope, not fear, amongst its citizens.
IN: Perkins Engines: Perkins believes continued UK membership of the European Union is fundamental to the economic growth and wellbeing of both the UK and wider EU economy and therefore best serves Perkins’ and European business interests.
OUT: Cllr Stephen Lane, Werrington First city councillor: This is about people v. politicians. We trusted politicians back in 1975 and have since found it was always about deeper integration, so I cannot trust them now. The PM’s reforms will not be ratified until after 23 June, so we must Vote Leave - or be fearful of our destiny.
IN: Anne Corder, owner of Anne Corder recruitment in Peterborough: Whilst acknowledging the challenges we face with bureaucracy and red tape, I believe that our economy is best served by staying put. We have seen a slow but steady economic recovery since 2008 and it would be foolish to risk that by doing something that no country has done before.
IN: Father Adam Sowa, Parish Priest of All Souls RC, Peterborough: It seems to me that our continent has reached a crossroads and Europe needs a fresh start, a new vision that holds solidarity, fraternity and the dignity of all people at its core. And we, English citizens and residents, can successfully do it from withing rather than outside.
UNDECIDED: John Harris, farmer in Thorney: I believe whether we are in or out I will still get my subsidies. I’m leaning towards staying in. I just feel it’s probably the unknown that’s the biggest problem. We’ve got a lot of red tape around our necks but I do not believe that will go if we leave.
UNDECIDED: Cllr Chris Ash Leader of the Liberal Party group on Peterborough City Council: EU yes or no? For good reasons my party says no but hearing Farage, Boris and co makes me think stay - Cameron and his new friends I think leave. It’s a lacklustre campaign, neither side convinces me, but I shall vote. Don’t panic, we’re doomed.
OUT: Stewart Jackson, Peterborough MP: We need to take back control of our country as an outward looking, globally focused, independent self-governing democracy - not tied to an out-of-touch, undemocratic European Union with a shrinking share of world trade. It means we’ll protect our borders, have a fair points-based immigration system, deport criminals and fix our spending priorities.
IN: Darragh MacAnthony, Peterborough United owner: I think it would be an unmitigated disaster should the UK vote to leave. Small businesses would suffer, the cost of living would rise, the property industry would take a dive and simple pleasures like taking quick breaks for small money to various European destinations would be a thing of the past.
IN: Rachel Kennerley, Friends of the Earth regional campaigner: The EU has been good for our environment; leading to cleaner beaches, water and air, and the protection of some of our most beloved nature sites. We also know that this generation faces huge challenges, from climate change to air pollution, which cannot be dealt with by one country.
UNDECIDED: Stef Malajny, Papa Luigi owner: I am not one that feels we will be overran by the Turks and I don’t think business will go into a recession if we leave. Our Papa Luigi shop has a right old selection of crew and we all rub along fine! Without these crew members we wouldn’t be able to operate.
OUT: Cllr John Whitby, Leader of the council’s UKIP group: There is no good reason to remain within the EU. Out of the EU, we can make decisions based on what is right for this country and people, not a one-size-fits-all across 28 different countries and cultures. Our future safety, security, justice, economic growth, migration control, and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership are excellent reasons to leave.
IN: Cllr Ed Murphy, Labour and Co-operative councillor: The European Union has brought investment, jobs and protection for workers, consumers and the environment. I believe in a society which will be stronger if we co-operate with our neighbours in facing modern day challenges together. My vision is to make Britain better and fairer for everyone by engaging with our European neighbours.
UNDECIDED: Richard Landy, Stilton cheese campaigner: The question of Brexit is truly a conundrum wrapped in a mystery with misuse/abuse of national statistics. I would like to know whether protected food names such as Stilton Cheese are released from the current constraints and would it be legal to produce Stilton Cheese in Stilton and call it Stilton Cheese.
IN: Abdul M Choudhuri, Faizan-e-Madinah Mosque chairman: If it was the first time the UK was seeking EU membership I would have definitely said NO to join. If we get out now, we may be begging again to join in the EU in a few years time. Will we be admitted? It is therefore better for us to stay in.
IN: Leonie McCarthy, CEO Peterborough Council for Voluntary Service: I believe that being a part of the EU has given us an enormous amount of talent and skills across Peterborough in terms of staffing and volunteers from other countries. The Voluntary Sector has been able to apply for EU funding to address significant gaps in services for some of the poorest and most excluded people in our city, which we are then able to direct to local neighbourhoods in deprived areas.
IN: Shailesh Vara, MP for North West Cambridgeshire: This has not been an easy decision for me but on balance I believe it is in Britain’s best interest to remain in a reformed European Union. Staying in means more jobs, lower prices and more financial security for British families. It means Britain being stronger, safer and better off.
UNDECIDED: Ged Rathbone, Peterborough Panthers promoter: I’ve not decided which way I’m going to vote. I still need to weigh up the pros and cons.
Whether we are in or out will make no difference whatsoever to my business, but I would say the general feeling in my neck of the woods in the North
East is out.
OUT: Jayshree Mehta, Member of the Asian community organisations: I strongly believe we should leave EU to regain the control of borders and immigration, human rights issues, the economy and international trading. Uncontrolled immigration has stretched the nation’s resources and compromised the security severely. The UK needs to reassert its presence globally. I am talking as a migrant myself.
IN: Cllr Nick Sandford, leader of the council’s Liberal Democrat group: The Tory party tears itself apart over Europe. But we are a European country. We achieve more by working together with neighbours. The alternative? Isolation, conflict, nationalism and distrust of foreigners. The very forces which caused two World Wars in the 20th century. EU membership ensures it can never happen again.