On the eve of EU Referendum day, I’d like to share my reasons for voting to Remain with Jewish News readers.
Elements of the debate, if we are honest, have not shown British democracy at its finest. Constituents let me know that. But when asked why I’m voting for Remain, I’ve stated the following reasons:
British business is better off in Europe. The EU is by far the UK’s largest trading partner, half of our exports go to EU countries, which are worth more than £220billion a year to our economy.
We receive an average of £24billion in investment every year from other EU countries, so walking away from this market or demanding we renegotiate our business relationship is a risk I do not believe it is worth taking.
If we leave, we will still have to follow the EU’s rules if we want to do business there, but will not have a say in making the rules.
The Brexit campaign is not able to tell us exactly how we will balance the books if we leave the European Union.
“Guess-timating” is not an approach to economics or running a business any of us should feel comfortable with.
When it comes to choosing between the economic wisdom of Nigel Farage on one side or the current and previous prime ministers on both the Labour and Tory sides, the Treasury, the IMF, the OECD, the CBI, the Bank of England, the trade union movement and the bosses of major businesses, I know who I trust our economy with.
On security, an issue important to all of us, we are better off in Europe.
It often goes unreported, but the EU helps protect us against crime, terrorism and threats to our security.
The European Arrest Warrant means we can arrest people who have committed crimes in the UK across the EU. More than 1,100 suspected criminals have been returned to face British justice. No longer can people skip the country to an easy retirement overseas.
Now, thanks to the EU and British involvement in the EU, these criminals face British justice in British courts.
I for one would hate to see the capability of the European Arrest Warrant lost to the UK. And at a time of heightened security risks, we cannot be renegotiating extradition treaties with the EU simply to get us back to where we started from.
As shadow minister for mental health, I know funding for mental health research is too low.
Mental health research charity MQ says that less than £10 is invested in research per person affected by mental illness – some 100 times lower than the amount spent for other physical health conditions.
Up until 2013, the UK received more than £700million of funding for medical research projects from the European Union’s FP7 programme; more than any other EU country.
An additional £60billion of funding has now been made available to EU countries through the successor Horizon 2020 programme.
We need to remain in the EU so we can compete for and win much more of those funds for mental health research.
In foreign affairs, the UK plays a leading role within the EU, working to ensure that the EU’s diplomatic relations are engaged with the world as it is, rather than that of the academic textbooks.
I want the UK to stay in the EU so that we can continue to play our role in helping shape the impact that the EU has through-out the world, not least in the Middle East.
And I am yet to hear one single member of the Brexit camp explain how we can continue to trade with the EU, yet avoid the obligations of free movement of people.
Both Switzerland and Norway are outside the EU, but to gain access they have accepted free movement of people.
So leaving the EU is not the answer. Instead, we should take practical measures to deal with rogue employers who take advantage of migrant labour.
Which is why, on Thursday, I will vote to Remain.
Because the Britain I know has a proud place in the family of Nations, and together with our EU partners we will achieve more together than going it alone.