Harriet Harman

Parliament has been dissolved until after the General Election and I am no longer an MP

South London Press Column: Southwark people will be better off in the EU


When I talk to people in Southwark about the EU referendum on June 23rd, most people say they still haven't made up their minds, they want to know more about it and want to think about it further.  It certainly makes sense to find out all the issues at stake because this is one of the biggest decisions that will affect our country for decades to come.  

To contribute to this important debate, here are the reasons why I'm voting for the UK to remain in the EU.  

The EU is important for equality, human rights and has backed equality, and rights at work. Voting to leave would put at risk equal pay, paid annual, maternity and paternity leave and the protection of agency workers.  The EU ensures minimum standards and without this guarantee it would be left just to the Conservative Government, who have never stood up for human rights, and equality or fought to improve living conditions for most people.

The EU is important for jobs, for our businesses and keeping the cost of living down. The EU has a population of 500 million and is the biggest consumer market in the world, putting Britain in a great position for trade and investment. 540,000 jobs in London are reliant on our membership of the EU, 26,000 London businesses trade goods within the EU (worth £4.7billion) and every year £26.5 billion is invested in Britain by other EU countries.

The EU is important for our health service.  And leaving it would be thoroughly bad news for the quality of care that people in Southwark receive. Our health services need people who come from other European countries to work as nurses, doctors and care workers. If we left the EU, and they all had to apply for visas to come here, many wouldn't and our NHS would lose out.  

Kings College Hospital is a centre for medical research and treats a great many local patients.  The UK has received over £700million of EU funding for medical research projects. A further £60billion of funding has now been made available to EU countries with the UK receiving the most approved grants so far. Leaving Europe would turn off the tap of funding for medical research that provides hope to patients.

The links we form in the EU give Britain the power to speak with a louder voice than we would alone. The EU has the world’s largest aid budget, and using the collective voice EU countries have led on efforts to tackle climate change, clamp down on corruption, start to end tax avoidance in developing countries and extend human rights across the developing world. Any contributions that we make towards EU aid spending count towards Britain’s 0.7% spending target.

The way the EU works at present is not perfect but it is better to have a seat at the table than to throw stones from outside with no say. The referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union is on the 23rd June and you must be registered to vote by the 7th June. 

I hope you will join me in voting to remain a member of the European Union.

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