Normal party politics were put to one side this week in Newbury as mainstream politicians came together with local MP Richard Benyon in a display of cross-party support for Britain to remain a member of the European Union.
Former Reading West Labour MP Martin Salter has come out of retirement to campaign for the Remain side in the referendum to be held on June 23rd. Also present with Mr Benyon were the Liberal Democrat and Labour candidates for Newbury in last year's General Election, Judith Bunting and Jonny Roberts. West Berkshire Councillors were represented by Council Leader Roger Croft and the Lib Dem Leader of the Opposition Alan Macro.
The cross-party group came together ahead of a public meeting in Thatcham last Friday evening (June 3rd) with Richard Benyon, Judith Bunting and Jonny Roberts sharing a platform in support of the Stronger In campaign.
The meeting turned into a lively debate with standing room only. Richard Benyon, Judith Bunting and Jonny Roberts talked openly about the powerful reasons for remaining in Europe for the benefit of West Berkshire and for the future of our children and the country as a whole.
Richard Benyon said: “It was good to see so many people engaging in this vital debate and I know from feedback from those who came along that they appreciated the cross-party consensus. This issue is way above party politics. It is not like a General Election when we would have another chance to vote after five years or so. This is a once-in-a-lifetime decision which will have huge implications for the future of this country.”
“For me, the main issues are the economy and our security. The consensus across business, backed up by independent economic bodies such as the Institute of Fiscal Studies, is strongly in favour of Remain. Businesses in West Berkshire, such as Xtrac in Thatcham, benefit enormously from access to the single market – the largest trading bloc in the world – and our local economy benefits accordingly. When it comes to security, I sit on the Defence Select Committee and lead the UK’s delegation to the NATO Assembly and have frequent opportunity to hear from some of the best experts on defence and security as well as our allies. There is an almost universal view that Britain leaving the EU would be bad for European security and therefore bad for Britain.”
Martin Salter added: “I’ve long been a supporter of Britain’s membership of the EU as there's an overwhelming economic case for remaining in an institution that has helped deliver an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity. However, we should also remind ourselves of how the EU has delivered many important protections for our quality of life including rights at work, consumer protections, cleaner rivers, improved sewage discharge standards, better bathing beaches, wildlife habitat and water framework directives – in fact there is a long list of environmental achievements that have come from Brussels rather than Westminster. That's why I'm so pleased to be campaigning alongside Richard Benyon, my former parliamentary neighbour and Minister for the Natural Environment, and representatives from other parties for Britain to remain inside the EU.”
Judith Bunting said: “I recognise this is a difficult decision for many, but any vote to Leave could result in a horribly impoverished future for our children and our grandchildren. For me, the most worrying aspect is unemployment. Many large employers are indicating that if we leave they will reduce operations in Britain or relocate entirely. Those businesses remaining will not be able to pick up the slack. Too much is at risk if we lose this referendum on the 23rd June. I urge all supporters to take the time go and vote Remain on June 23 rd . I really don’t want our country or our children to face levels of unemployment, again, of two and a half million or more.”
Cross-party support in Thatcham for Stronger In: Councillor Alan Macro, former Labour MP Martin Salter, Labour candidate Jonny Roberts, Lib Dem candidate Judith Bunting and Councillor Roger Croft