SWINDON’S MPs have welcomed yesterday’s announcement by David Cameron that the British people will have a say on the EU as he pledged an in/out referendum if the Conservatives win the next election.
In a long-awaited speech, the prime minister said he wanted to renegotiate the UK’s relationship with the EU and then give people the “simple choice” between staying in under those new terms, or leaving the EU.
South Swindon MP Robert Buckland is leading national calls for the UK to remain within the EU and believes staying in is important, especially in Swindon, to maintain jobs and economic growth.
Mr Buckland, who is also secretary of the Tories’ influential 1922 Committee of MPs, helped to draft a letter to David Cameron, signed by more than 25 MPs, which says quitting would cause massive damage to Britain, economically and diplomatically.
Reacting to the announcement of the referendum, Mr Buckland said: “I am very pleased that the PM made a positive commitment to our continued membership of the EU.
“Now that everyone will be given a say if the Conservatives win the next election, the time is right to make the case for our continued involvement, which is what I will campaign for. Over 25 MPs signed the letter.”
Justin Tomlinson, the North Swindon MP, also agreed a referendum was a good idea, but refused to sign Mr Buckland’s letter, saying he only represents a tiny minority of people – who are not in tune with public opinion.
He said: “As one of 81 Conservative MPs who voted for the referendum in 2011, I’m absolutely delighted that we have finally secured the green light to let the public have their say.
“It’s absolutely crucial that we renegotiate hard with Europe to put Britain’s interests first, and if Europe fails to respond then I have no doubt the British public would want to opt out.”
Paul Ormond, the general manager for corporate affairs at Honda UK, the sales arm of Honda, confirmed that the Japanese carmaker was committed to the plant at South Marston, regardless of the outcome of any referendum.
He said: “It’s not the case if it goes one way or another, Honda will decide to take a certain course of action. We will manage our business regardless of what’s decided by the British Government and British people.
“Clearly the whole automotive industry, including Honda, is exporting to Europe, we know we’re having tough times at the moment but we expect to play an active constructive role within Europe in terms of selling our cars and improving the export numbers.
“And we look forward to playing an active role in exporting cars from Swindon to Europe regardless of what befalls the whole Europe debate.”