MP COLUMN: Referendum will change the future

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On Friday February 19, the Prime Minister announced he had secured a new deal for the United Kingdom within the European Union and would now deliver on his manifesto commitment of giving the people of the UK an in/out referendum on the issue.

On Thursday June 23 2016, the British people will be given the opportunity to vote whether to remain in or leave the EU.

It is 41 years since we had the opportunity to have our say on our relationship with the EU and I would like to emphasise that the issue of whether the UK stays in a reformed EU or leaves and goes it alone will be decided by every UK resident and not by Members of Parliament.

Everyone who is eligible to vote, and is registered, will have an equal say on the future relationship of the UK with the EU.

I have cross-referenced what the Prime Minister promised, and the plans I backed at the election, with the negotiated agreement.

In brief, the agreement secures for the UK: permanent protection for our Pound, safeguards against discrimination by the Eurozone, restrictions on child benefit being sent to foreign countries, an emergency brake on EU migrants having access to welfare, the ability to prevent criminals coming here and deport those already here and protections from unwanted legislation.

At heart, I am a Eurosceptic, but I am also a realist.

On balance, in my opinion, the risks of coming out of the EU are greater than the risks associated with staying in a reformed Europe.

Yes, the reformed Europe will still not be perfect, but the UK will continue to influence further changes.

Despite our economic recovery continuing, with unemployment in Erewash now down by 62 per cent since 2010, times are still tough. The uncertainty of an exit from the EU I fear would cost jobs and further economic recovery.

To date, I have not been persuaded that leaving the EU will be better for our economy and our security.

In conclusion, I feel it is better to be in a reformed EU with the special status that has now been negotiated and be able to continue to negotiate further reform. I feel that the established reforms should be seen as just the start of a new relationship within the EU.