OGP: EU Referendum: letter to the papers

We write as elected Green Councillors, former Councillors, candidates and Oxfordshire Green Party Officers to strongly advise the voters of Oxfordshire to choose ‘Remain’ in the EU referendum on 23rd June.

Yes, we agree that the EU has many shortcomings and needs to be reformed; and that it should be more democratic (but so should the UK, whose current government was elected by only 24% of the electorate – not to mention the unelected House of Lords).  However, we believe that on balance, there are stronger arguments for staying in the EU.

Peace, social progress and security: Europe has enjoyed its longest continuous peace that we know of.  We have also seen improved human and workers’ rights and decades of rising prosperity.  As global business grows – we need to join together with our neighbours to guarantee consumer rights, to fight for tax justice and against international fraud.  One of the greatest perceived threats to our security is terrorism – and we cannot fight that alone. 

Environmental challenges, such as climate change and pollution, are clearly impossible to tackle within national borders.  And with EU standards, we have made some progress on pollution – air, water, rivers, oceans – as well as on energy efficiency and wildlife preservation.  Recent reforms to EU policies on agriculture and fisheries are beginning to make a positive difference and we should not forget the huge contribution to food safety made by EU legislation.

Oxford is likely to lose a huge number of jobs and dynamic enterprises and find its services weakened if we leave the EU.  Education, health and BMW are among the biggest employers in Oxford, with nearly 20% of jobs in higher education, about 14% in health: overall, 67% of jobs in the city are in the knowledge-intensive sector, work that can be done almost anywhere.  

Apart from the predicted economic downturn in the Brexit case (that not even the ‘Brexiteers’ dispute), these three major employers would all suffer hugely if we leave the EU.   About 60% of  Oxford’s academic research funding comes from EU-funded cross-university collaborative projects – not to mention the likely drop off in student numbers that would accompany Brexit.  About 30% of NHS staff in Oxford are EU nationals – we rely on recruiting talent from member states to retain quality health services.  And do we really imagine that BMW (80% of whose Minis are exported) would continue to invest in Oxford when the UK is no longer part of the single market?

Those encouraging us to leave the EU argue that UK could negotiate better deals were we to go it alone, blindly ignoring warnings from across Europe and America that the UK would "go to the back of queue" in any new trade deals.   And how would the UK get a competitive advantage outside the EU? Only by cutting employment rights, cutting environmental regulations, cutting human rights - in short, by cutting the very protections that the EU has taken years to put in place. 

If we ‘Brexit’, the country faces years of uncertainty that many have predicted will push us into another recession. 

This referendum will be very close – every vote will count.  Please get out and vote REMAIN on 23rd June.

Cllr Craig Simmons, Leader Oxford City Council Green Group

Cllr David Williams, Leader, Oxfordshire County Council Green Group

Cllr David Thomas

Cllr Ruthi Brandt

Cllr Dick Wolff

Cllr Sam Coates

Sarah Wood, Chair, Oxfordshire Green Party

Matt Ledbury, Deputy Chair, Oxfordshire Green Party

Hazel Dawe, Chair of EU campaign and former Cowley candidate

Elise Benjamin, former Councillor and former Lord Mayor

Ann Duncan, former Parliamentary Candidate, Oxford East

Larry Sanders, Green Party Health Spokeperson and former Parliamentary Candidate

Ian Middleton, prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Banbury

Dr. Kate Prendergast, prospective Parliamentary candidate for Wantage.

Fiona Mawson, Yarnton Parish Councillor

Chris Henderson, Vice Chairman, Radley Parish Council

David Newman, Oxfordshire Green Party Elections Co-ordinator

Alison Williams, former Deputy Chair, Oxfordshire Green Party

Sushila Dhall, former Councillor and Chair, Oxfordshire Green Party

Al Wilson, former Green Candidate, North Oxford

Tim Eden, former Green Candidate, East Oxford

Fiona Joines, former Green Candidate, Central Oxford

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