Sally Keeble, the former Labour MP for Northampton North, has given her backing to remaining in the European Union.
She said: “Staying in the European Union is the best choice for our economy and our future as a nation.
“Europe was part of my parents’ story. They met fighting fascism in the second world war. And afterwards they worked for the British Military Government on the reconstruction of Berlin. Years later they served as diplomats behind the Iron Curtain, standing up for democracy in the Cold War.
“When communism fell I was one of the UK Government ministers who spoke to the new accession states about joining the European Union. And make no mistake, the countries that came to Europe post-communism were not just after access to markets. They also saw in Europe a better way of life, and the prospect of a peaceful future within a union of independent, free nations.
“The business case for our continued EU membership has been at the forefront of the debate, not surprising when £10.4 billion of our exports are to the EU. And our trade with the rest of the world actually shrank in January this year as the global recession took its toll on non-EU trade – down by 32 per cent over a month, and 5.5 per cent over the past year.
“The ‘outers’ say that as a major world economy we could carve out a future on our own. While we’re the fifth largest economy – in part due to our membership of the EU – we’re a long way behind the biggest. The economy of the USA is seven times, China five times, and Japan twice as large as ours.
“On top of negotiating trade agreements with the other 27 EU nations, we would have to renegotiate the 52 deals the EU has with other nations, and the 72 that are currently in train.
“As for the cost of membership – yes at £8.5 billion net, it’s a lot in total, but that’s £130 per person, and at 0.5 per cent of GDP, is less than we spend on international development.
“We live in a world where crime, terrorism, climate change and more is transnational, and our action is stronger as part of the EU.
“So there are strong pragmatic grounds for remaining in the EU. And there’s the big idealistic goal of being part of building a continent of strong democratic nations free of the wars – conventional and cold – that have cost so much in money and human life for all of us.”