He says: “In just three days, the people of Lincolnshire will take a momentous decision: whether to remain in a reformed Europe, or whether to quit – for good.
“I know readers will be asking the same sort of questions. Where will my family and I be better off? Where will my children have more opportunities? Where will Britain be stronger in the world, able to make our people safer?
“I believe the answer is in a reformed European Union – and you can see the evidence right across Lincolnshire.
“In the EU we have full access to the Single Market of 500 million people. So many industries rely on the ability that gives Britain to export with ease, whether it’s crops or wind energy. Lose that access – which is what leaving the EU would mean – and we risk barriers that would be a significant blow to trade. And a blow to trade is a blow to jobs, livelihoods and families across Lincolnshire.
“Companies from the EU want to invest here because of our membership. Nearly 80 per cent of foreign firms say their investment was motivated by our Single Market access, like Siemens, which brings so many jobs and so much growth to this region. Then there’s the impact on agriculture. Millions of pounds are received by farms here in Lincolnshire via the Common Agricultural Policy. Yes, the CAP can be frustrating. But it’s only within Europe that we make sure it works for us. There are absolutely no guarantees that future governments would continue that support.
“There’s research, too. Our universities disproportionately benefit from EU funding. Look at the University of Lincoln, working on the robotic solutions to the problem of an ageing population, thanks to EU funding.
“Then there’s the fact that we are at the top table of one of the world’s biggest institutions. It’s there that we’ve pushed for sanctions on Russia and a better deal for our small businesses. It’s there that we more efficiently tackle the terrorist threats that face us. That’s what I call real strength: setting the agenda, getting things done in the world – not walking out of the room and letting the conversations continue without you.
“We get all these benefits while being able to opt out of the things we don’t want. The Euro, Eurozone bailouts, a European Army, a border-free Schengen zone, ‘ever-closer union’ – Britain is out of these things once and for all. It really is the best of both worlds.
“Nine out of ten economists agree it would be a bad thing if we left. In the short term, the IMF and the Bank of England both predict there would be a recession. In the medium term there could be a “decade of uncertainty”, says the Treasury, as we renegotiate our relationship with Europe. In the long term, the OECD, LSE academics and others tell us our economy would be smaller – leaving us permanently poorer. Is this really the economic outlook we want for our children?
“When the Leave campaign hear about the risks, they say, ‘so what?’ They say there would be more money to spend on everything from farming to the NHS. They couldn’t be more wrong. With a smaller economy caused by less trade, less investment and more uncertainty, there would be less money to spend on these things, not more. It really is a leap in the dark.
“The EU is not perfect – far from it. But it will affect us whether we’re in or out. We can only reform it and fight for Britain’s interests if we stay inside it. So many people agree: the major political parties, businesses large and small, economists, scientists, university vice chancellors, church leaders, NHS workers and leaders from around the world.
“But I’ll leave the last word to Lincolnshire’s most famous daughter, indeed, the architect of the Single Market, Margaret Thatcher, ‘Britain has made a vital contribution to the past. She has a contribution to make to the future. It will be bigger in Europe than alone’.”