Redbridge MPs and local figures reveal split over EU campaign

PUBLISHED: 13:41 24 February 2016 | UPDATED: 14:15 24 February 2016

PA Wire: Dave Thompson

PA Wire: Dave Thompson

PA Wire/Press Association Images

MPs in Redbridge have revealed their divisions on whether they will back Britain exiting the European Union (EU), when the referendum is held on June 23.

Last week, Woodford Green MP Iain Duncan Smith found himself on the opposite side of the referendum debate to the Prime Minister and his party leader, when he announced his support for ‘Brexit’.

In an interview, he said remaining in the EU “leaves the door open” to attacks such as those in Paris last year.

“This open border does not allow us to check and control people that may come and spend time,” he said.

“We’ve seen what happened in Paris where they spent ages planning and plotting so who’s to say it’s not beyond the wit of man that those might already be thinking about that”, he told the BBC last week.

Leyton and Wanstead MP Jon Cryer has also pledged his support for the leave campaign.

After voting in favour for a referendum to be held in 2011, he said there was a “justifiable perception” amongst people in Leyton and Wanstead, that a “tiny political elite” existed at the head of the EU.

Ilford MPs Mike Gapes and Wes Streeting have confirmed they will campaign for the UK to remain in the EU this summer, alongside the majority of the Labour party.

In a statement to the Recorder, Mr Gapes said: “The EU referendum is about far more than the minor changes negotiated last week.

“In this increasingly interdependent world, we can achieve more by working with Europe than we ever could alone.

“Membership of the EU is a strategic as well as an economic asset to Britain.

“I will be voting to remain so we can build a stronger, safer, more prosperous Britain.”

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting said the decision will “define Britain’s course” this century.

He said: “The benefits of staying in the European Union far outweigh the costs.

“We can’t afford to put our economy, jobs, rights at work and national security at risk with a big leap into the dark, which is why I’ll be supporting the Prime Minister and campaigning to keep us in.”

“I will be organising debates so that can people locally can hear both sides of this important argument and make an informed decision.

“I’ll happily campaign with people from different political parties, putting aside our differences to unite to safeguard our national interest.”

In the borough, Tory leader Cllr Paul Canal said he was undecided, but marginally more supportive of the remain campaign currently.

He said: “In my view, the arguments are finally balanced.

“Some will compare the uncertainty of Brexit with the certainty of continued access to a single market.

“Others will proclaim the importance of parliamentary sovereignty and access to faster growing “dynamic” economies in Asia and Africa.

“For most it will be a nuanced choice informed by a four month national debate.

“I will cast my vote on what I think is best for the residents of Redbridge and for my children and grandchildren.”

Last week, after an intense two days of negotiation in Brussels, prime minister David Cameron announced he had secured a deal to limit some EU migrants’ benefits.

This includes the power to halt in-work benefits to new EU migrants if the UK can show immigration is putting a strain on public services, like schools.

Rita Chadha, executive director of Refugee and Migrant Forum of Essex and London (RAMFEL), said she didn’t think it would stop migrants from moving to Britain.

She said: “Migrants from Europe do not come with the sole intention of claiming benefits.

“They come, yes to work, to explore and to settle, just as the 2.2 million Brits abroad do.

“The number of Europeans living in Redbridge has grown over recent years, with large communities of Portuguese and Spanish settling over the last year in particular.

“Those already settled will not be affected, but future EU citizens who chose to try and settle in the UK may be.”

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