With less than a week to go until voters go to the polls, the Observer has asked politicians, business leaders and community members from Hyndburn if they think the United Kingdom should leave or remain in the European Union - and why.
A plethora of national polls have been commissioned to track voters’ intentions, with recent forecasts showing a close race between the two sides, leading many pollsters to predict the vote will go down to the wire.
The vote has split political parties and even families and has been deemed as ‘the most important political decision of a generation.”
Hyndburn council leader Miles Parkinson has come out against the national party line of the Labour party, by advocating a Leave vote.
Coun Parkinson said there are a range of issues but in the end the vote boils down to a matter of “sovereignty and self-determination.”
He added: “Another dangerous thing is immigration. Controlled immigration is good for the economy but Hyndburn suffers from the effects of mass migration from Europe. By people coming to the UK that’s suppressing the wages of the local economy and that’s affecting suppliers and businesses in Hyndburn. A controlled immigration policy which actually allowed people into the country that we need for the economy can only be achieved by leaving the EU.”
Hyndburn MP Graham Jones set out the case for the Remain camp, saying “trillions of pounds in business” were at stake from the vote.
He added: “We will also lose control over EU policing, EU security and lose control to prevent further EU expansion. The UK’s veto in the EU makes the UK powerful. A force for good because Britain is the greatest country in the world and great countries look outward. Great countries want to solve problems not create them.”
East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, hosted a debate on the EU referendum on June 15.
Mike Damms, chief executive, said: “We have found interesting division across businesses about whether to leave or remain. The key issues we’ve identified in the debate are democracy and governance, the economy and immigration.”
Polls will be open from 7am until 10pm on Thursday, June 23.
For more information about voting in the EU Referendum, visit www.aboutmyvote.co.uk .
Leader of Hyndburn council Miles Parkinson
" It’s really about sovereignty and self-determination. We are the fifth largest economy in the world, we are not going to drop from that if we leave the EU.
"There are many issues, the democratic voice of the British people which is overloaded by the EU conglomerate which we have no real role in electing.
"The EU override the democratic choice which I think is a dangerous precedent.
"Another dangerous thing is immigration. Controlled immigration is good for the economy but Hyndburn suffers from the effects of mass migration from Europe.
"By people coming to the UK that’s suppressing the wages of the local economy and that’s affecting suppliers and businesses in Hyndburn.
"A controlled immigration policy which actually allowed people into the country that we need for the economy can only be achieved by leaving the EU. It’s about democracy and we shouldn’t give that away so freely.
"British people have a democratic right to change the laws that affect us and our country. It’s far less risky leaving the EU then staying in it. Outside the EU we can set our own laws and our own immigration policy. It’s right that we leap at this opportunity and hopefully the electorate in Hyndburn will support that."
What More UK founder and owner of Accrington Stanley Andy Holt:
“I am voting out. I think there might be some short term problems but I think it will be the best for us in the long run and it’s a great opportunity.
"The whole issue is with the common currency and whether that works in our favour or against us, and either we want to be part of the Euro and integrate, or there is no point being in it.
"We were in Europe during the last recession and being in didn’t bring us any favours or protection then. I think there will be a short term impact on business but it won’t be significant for us, and really I think we’ll see a benefit to all parts of Hyndburn.
"I don’t see the big benefit of being in, I only see that we are being dragged down with the failing countries in Europe. In Greece there is 50 per cent unemployment and they’re not being helped by the rest of the European community.
"You don’t want to be part of a community that doesn’t support each other, fundamentally it’s a shambles. But whether we are in or out, Europe will still need us and our economy, introducing charges would be counterproductive.
"The principle of the EU is a good idea but it doesn’t work without greater integration and agreement, which I don’t think can ever be achieved.”
Founder and owner of Spex Opticians and former Conservative parliamentary candidate in Hyndburn Kevin Horkin
“I made my mind up a long time ago, I’ll be voting for leave. What formed that more than anything was when I was the political candidate for the constituency in Hyndburn where I spoke to thousands of people in the campaign and I listened very intently to what they said, and being in the EU is not what the people of Hyndburn wanted.
"Having been in business since the age of 16 and set my own business up in Accrington market, I want to work with Europe, I want to trade with Europe, I just don’t want to be run by the EU.
"I don’t want a raft of laws coming out of Brussels telling us what to do, we need to vote leave so we can take back control. We are the fifth largest economy in the world, it’s ludicrous that we don’t believe that we can run our own affairs for the betterment of the UK.
"It has been ‘Project Fear’ on both the leave and the remain side but the fact is the definition of the EU has completely changed since we joined, it’s now a federal projects with 28 nations involved.
"I’m looking ahead and thinking about the long term, it would be far better for the UK to come out as quick as we can because I can see a raft of problems coming for the EU down the line.
"We have been heading towards this federal Europe on the sly for the last 10 to 12 years and the public have never voted for this. I really hope that everyone takes this historic opportunity and gets behind the cause to vote leave."
Former Clayton-le-Moors councillor and current director of community group Mercer House 1842 Nick Collingridge
“I feel that there are two questions to ask about the EU, how much does it cost us and if it was a limited company, which in effect it is, how would they continue to exist without the account being signed off by the auditors.
"We need to talk about European responsibility, because they don’t take any for their finances or corruption. I’m voting leave to get back control and get back pride in Britain.
"We need to fight against this federal Europe that the French and German governments are trying to impose and that’s what this referendum has given us the chance to do.
"We spend millions of pounds a year paying into the union and we are one of the few net contributors to the system, and while other countries such as Spain and Portugal get lots out of it, we get back less than we put in.
"Voting to leave would be one step to putting things right in this country, instead of putting money to clean up the beaches of Spain, we can use that money to clean up the beaches of Blackpool and put money towards the NHS - that’s the difference. That’s where the money should be going to."
Hyndburn MP Graham Jones
“Trillions of pounds in business are at stake. The average amount of exports to the EU from each constituency including Hyndburn is a massive £354m a year.
If we leave we will have to pay tariffs; we will have no say or control over how much we will pay Brussels. Cars will be taxed at 10 per cent (or more) and we sell to the EU 2,000 cars a day. EU tariffs on textiles are 9.5 per cent to 12 per cent. (Estimated tariff payments to EU £8.7 billion). Ask yourself; will we sell more goods with these high tariffs added on top?
Leaving will mean we will lose control over rising EU tariffs on UK goods which will hurt UK business and UK interests - introduce export insecurity and undermine investment. We will also lose control over EU policing, EU security and lose control to prevent further EU expansion. Our Border Force dealing with 36m visitors to the UK has little chance of protecting us without vital intelligence.
The UK’s veto in the EU makes the UK powerful. A force for good because Britain is the greatest country in the world and great countries look outward. Great countries want to solve problems not create them.
We are safer too. EU sanctions forced Iran to give up nuclear weapons and EU sanctions are putting pressure on Vladimir Putin and Russia. The EU is winning the peace where wars once ravaged Europe.”
Chair of the Hyndburn Chamber of Trade, Shahed Mahmood:
“I think we are far better staying in the EU. The way the UK has progressed throughout the years has been with partners and with collaborations with other countries.
"We need partners, we need employment and it’s Europe that has put us where we are today.
"In Hyndburn there are businesses and manufacturers that need and rely on the European market. If we come out nobody knows what the effect that’s going to have, and I can’t see anything better coming as a result of leaving.
"We could face tariffs, charges to manufacturers and losing our partners in the EU which have been a source of strength since the last World War. The EU has worked for us and for the movement of trade and skills which helps businesses employ the right people. I haven’t seen any facts or figures that would show leaving would affect us in a positive way.”
Owner and managing director of North West Logistics, Stephen Dunn:
“I am very much in favour of remaining in the European Union, both on a personal and a business level. It affects our work because we have about 20 per cent of our business contacts in the EU.
"Companies are producing goods and building working relationships with other countries around the EU and that depends on personal relationships.
"It’s built up over time to establish a stronger link between each other. I am very concerned that in coming out the of the EU, and not knowing what kind of trade agreement would be in place to replace the free trade agreement, that would result in less benefits to British business than we are currently enjoying.
"If tariffs or charges are introduced the other European countries may replace those relationships with goods and services that are cheaper within the EU.
"It’s going to affect jobs, it’s going to affect unemployment. In the short term it will lead to a shock to the economy, it will cost us and businesses don’t need to be in that short term risk, they need stability.
"The turmoil of coming out of the EU would be devastating for a company like us. If we leave it’s going to take years to fosters the contacts you need to trade in the international markets round the world. I think we should be more proud to be in Europe, it’s not perfect and it does need reform but not being part of it - I can’t think of anything worse."
Green party parliamentary candidate for Hyndburn and environmental activist, Kerry Gormley
“I am definitely voting remain, primarily because of the environmental protection and laws the European Union has put in place.
"Before we joined the EU most of the beaches around Britain were covered in sewage and pollution, and weren’t suitable to go on and the EU forced the British government to clean them up.
"Since we joined the EU and implemented their water directives, we have the best British habitat protection so there is more biodiversity in the rivers in Lancashire at the moment than ever before.
"The EU do work with us to protect our habitats. Looking forward we can see that most causes of conflict in the future will be exacerbated by climate change and increasingly that’s going to be the case in Europe.
"EU conflict resolution is a really important thing and if we are not part of Europe we won’t be able to be part of that. I think that the MEPs representing us could make the union work for us better, and more things could be achieved if we really joined and took part.”
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