South West MEP Sir Graham Watson has described the results of his recent region-wide survey as ‘encouraging’ after it emerged the vast majority of those surveyed would like the UK to remain an active member of the European Union.
As delegates gather for this weekends Liberal Democrat party conference in Brighton, Sir Graham has published the results on his website. They show that two thirds of respondents believe Britain should remain part of the EU, with some suggesting that reform is required to make the EU work better.
One in three respondents noted that trade was the most important reason why the UK should remain actively involved in Europe. Climate change, immigration and counter terrorism were other leading areas outlined by respondents as examples of how we could work together with other countries at a European level.
And in endorsing Graham’s own campaigns to make the South West a champion of renewable energy in Europe, over 82% of respondents agreed that our climate is changing and over 50% approved the use of both onshore and offshore wind turbines.
“While it is encouraging to see so many people in the South West remain positive about our relationship with the EU, it is clear that as an MEP I must do more to promote the benefits of Britain’s membership,” said Graham.
“And it would be naïve not to recognise that one third of respondents would like to see us withdraw immediately. Britain has one of the lowest levels of understanding about how the EU affects our daily lives and I will continue to do all I can to raise the awareness of these positives; from better consumer rights to the freedom to work, study or travel in any EU Member State.
“I will redouble my efforts to spread the message that by leaving the EU, the South West in particular would be damaged economically through the loss of trade and jobs, along with efforts to curb climate change and our ability to tackle international crime.
“More needs to be done to spread a pro European message to people right across the South West. The anti-Europeans offer no viable way of securing the three million jobs that would be at risk if we left the European Union.
“Respondents also agreed with the current European regional policy. Structural and convergence funding, which has brought £915 of public investment into the region has been spent to improve skills and training along with tackling inequalities.
“Residents of the South West also recognise that criminals should face justice in the country where they committed their crime, with 87% of respondents believing that the European Arrest Warrant, legislation I helped to pilot in the European Parliament ten years ago, should be used in this process. Perhaps the Tories and UKIP should take this as a warning when they are campaigning to end crime and justice cooperation at an EU level, which could severely harm our ability to fight terrorism.”
A summary document of the results has been published on Sir Graham’s website www.grahamwatsonmep.org and can be downloaded via a link on the homepage.