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Business Agrees With Nick on the EU: It's About Jobs, Jobs and Jobs

March 29, 2014 5:39 PM
By Giles Goodall - Liberal Democrat MEP candidate for South East England in The Huffington Post UK

As we draw closer to the European elections on 22 May, more and more business leaders are speaking out in favour of Britai n's membership of the European Union. Not a day seems to go by without another major employer warning of the risks for Britain's jobs and economy of a potential EU exit. That's because - as Nick Clegg said in last night's debate with Nigel Farage - it's about jobs, jobs and jobs.

The latest this week has been the head of General Electric Europe, who called for Britain to remain members of the EU. He told the Financial Times: "I really hope that England is not going to leave the European Union. It wouldn't be good for England; it wouldn't be good for Europe."

GE Europe is just the latest major company to join a chorus of firms calling for us to stay in the EU, including Nissan, Ford, Honda, Siemens, Unilever, BAE Systems, Kellogg's and Airbus. The CEO of Thomas Cook has emphasised that being part of the EU has made travelling around Europe both cheaper and easier. Together, these firms alone employ 120,000 people in the UK, with hundreds of thousands more in supply chains.

The facts in my region of South East England are similarly stark: over 200,000 local jobs are linked to our EU membership and we export £18 million of goods to the rest of Europe. General Electric Healthcare has its global headquarters in Buckinghamshire, for example, and employs 2,600 people there.

That's why 8 out of 10 firms in a nationwide survey by the CBI (Confederation of British Business) said that the UK must say in the EU. That's why Richard Branson - just hours before the first Nick v Nigel debate - called for Britain to stay in the EU.

But Ukip and many Tories are advocating just the opposite. They would put millions of jobs at risk and endanger our economic recovery by taking us towards an EU exit.

Liberal Democrats want Britain to stay in the EU because we are fighting for a stronger economy. Being in Europe gives us greater leverage when negotiating trade deals with global players like the US, China, India and Brazil. Recent EU free trade agreements with South Korea and Canada show that we're stronger when we stand together.

Voters face a serious choice at the European elections on 22 May. The Tories and UKIP are putting jobs and our economic recovery at risk through their anti-European obsession. Major employers have made clear that we are better off in the EU. The Lib Dems are the only party who'll fight to safeguard British jobs and influence.