Leave or Remain? Political hitters have their say on EU referendum

With the EU referendum drawing closer politically active residents gave their personal views on whether Britain should stay in or leave the European Union. ADAM GUEST presents some of their opinions.

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Gordon Harmer, Conservative, LEAVE

Mr Harmer gave his personal take on why Britain would be better off with the fishing industry at the forefront of his thoughts.

“The main reason [to leave] is to give us more control of our fishing grounds,” Mr Harmer said.

Having worked as a fisherman in Grimsby and Shetland he believes the industry – and Shetland – faces a better future outside the EU.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon would also stand a better chance of negotiating fishing grounds on the back of a leave vote, he claimed.

Mr Harmer said he moved north to fish in Shetland after the UK joined the EU. The fishing industry in Grimsby started to decline in part following EU membership, he said.

In Shetland, EU membership had also been damaging: “We don’t have half the boats we used to have and they are tied down by regulations and quotas”.

Membership had also impacted on other industries, said Mr Harmer – noting the shift of building of Ford Transit vans in the UK to Turkey with millions of pounds of EU money.

“The EU has paid for businesses to move away from this country,” he said.

“I just think we pay into this club such a massive amount and we get half back and we’re told how to spend that half and I think that’s wrong.”

Britain and Germany are “net contributors” while France was taking bail outs and is “a net recipient”.

“I just find the whole thing is so unfair and so undemocratic,” said Mr Harmer.

“It’s not the MEPs that have the power it’s the commissioners,” he added.

Robbie McGregor, SNP, REMAIN

Peace and economic stability are the most important factors for SNP activist Robbie McGregor.

“This is the longest period of peace there has been in this country,” he said.

“I’ve got a son and two grandsons and I’m just delighted that there has been no conflicts as far as European countries are concerned in that time.”

Mr McGregor said “the EU has been good for this country” though added the EU referendum was “divisive”.

“There seems to be quite a division of opinion and that people seem to be split down the middle,” he said.

“London and Edinburgh still seem to be financial centres and I would be surprised if that continued if we were not a member of the EU. I believe there would be an exodus of companies.”

Leaving the EU would lead to financial instability, said Mr McGregor and “the markets don’t like instability, so I think it could cause quite a lot of disruption”.

Gordon Thomson, Labour, REMAIN

Labour party member Gordon Thomson believes Britain is best served by staying in the EU and argues that greater integration would bring benefits.

The UK should “be more a part of the European Union than we are”, he said.

Although the EU was “not perfect”, Mr Thomson said he was in favour of the EU or common market in principle.

Britain, he said had always been “lukewarm about Europe” and had “always dipped their toe in the water but never fully embraced it.”

Though admitting it is unlikely, he believes Britain should adopt the euro.

“It’s 70-odd pence now so it’s still in pretty good shape,” he said.

“If Scotland ever did decide to become independent, I’m not that fussed, but there wouldn’t be all this haggling about the currency.”

The days of the British Empire were gone, said Mr Thomson and Britain had to be realistic.

“We are a small European country,” he said.

“We do ok economically… but we have to realise that we are part of a greater whole and we should be looking to unify things with other countries.”

Brenda Wilcock, Liberal Democrat, REMAIN

There was a lot of positives of being in the EU, including jobs, employment and European funding, according to Brenda Wilcock.

From a security point of view, staying in the EU meant the sharing of information, Mrs Wilcock said.

“The communication is important and the counter-terrorism,” she said.

“There’s some things I don’t agree with in the EU,” she added.

“I think Britain on the whole would be better if got up on its hind legs and stood up a bit, but on the whole I think we are better to be in than out.

“I think if we want to change anything within Europe you are better to be able to change from within Euorope rather than being outside of it.”

She noted issues such as climate change and the environment, where Britain could work with other countries.

“I think Britain as a country has a lot to offer and I think Britain could do a lot more in the EU. I don’t think all the time Britain should take the EU rules or guidelines as literally as they seem to do.”

Brian Nugent, Scottish Leave Left, LEAVE

Brian Nugent’s position should come as no surprise – he is campaigning for Britain to leave the EU which he argues is corrupt, unaccountable and undemocratic.

He noted a number of court cases in which, as a result of being in the EU businesses trumped workers when it came to workers’ rights.

Mr Nugent also referred to the fishing industry as a reason for a leave vote.

“Shetland has a big interest in fishing but the fishing is not controlled by Edinburgh or London, it’s controlled in Brussels and Shetland’s got no favours. British boats have been getting scrapped and meanwhile other countries are building boats. How does that work?

“The EU is hugely corrupt … They reckon if you do one term as an MEP and you’re not a millionaire at the end of it you’ve not worked the expenses system properly.

“I think the European Union will fail whether Britain stays in or out. They are trying to run the euro zone and they’ve got vastly different economies and they’re having to fund the euro to a great extent which isn’t sustainable and it’s almost certainly going to fail.”


Add Your Comment
  • Robin Stevenson

    • June 20th, 2016 17:06

    The prospect of the leave campaign forcing Cameron to quit, only to be replaced by and even more extreme neoliberalist – Boris – is very frightening indeed. We are already facing Tory austerity which would pale into insignificance with Johnson at the helm, with Farage grinning over his shoulder.

    I can fully understand the need to re-negotiate the Fishing issue in Shetland and throughout Scotland, but I’m afraid that history has already proved what lengths successive Tory and Labour governments are prepared to go in order to benefit London and the South East. What makes people imagine that it won’t be used as a bargaining pawn [as it always has been] with our new trading partners is anyone’s guess?

    A great number of people miss the point with the EU, the whole idea behind it was – not only greater stability – but bringing each member country up to the same level of production, trade and wealth, what is the point of Scotland [for example] producing goods that no-one can afford? I know there are many who believe that the word ‘socialism’ is a bad thing, but ‘civic socialism’ strikes a balance where ‘everyone’ benefits, not just the poor.

    • James Leask

      • June 21st, 2016 10:38

      “A great number of people miss the point with the EU, the whole idea behind it was – not only greater stability – but bringing each member country up to the same level of production, trade and wealth, what is the point of Scotland [for example] producing goods that no-one can afford? I know there are many who believe that the word ‘socialism’ is a bad thing, but ‘civic socialism’ strikes a balance where ‘everyone’ benefits, not just the poor.”

      The EU, especially through the disastrous Euro seems to be dragging down the countries to the same level, not rising them up.

  • John Tulloch

    • June 21st, 2016 10:53

    Brian Nugent is a nationalist and a man of principle. That’s why he left the SNP – over NATO. I disagree with him on some things but respect his principled approach.

    He is concerned here by the immensely damaging impact of the EU on his local community, Shetland – something, demonstrated by your own comments here today, the SNP is clearly not.

    Mr Nugent, of ‘Leave Left’, recognises the EU for the great, corrupt, undemocratic, economically failing control freak of a political system that it is and unlike Cameron, Osbourne and Nicola’s Tartan Tories, wishes us to escape from its neo-liberal clutches, TTIP and all.

    The linked abstract from a paper from Cambridge Political Economy Society says it all. Here’s a taste:

    “…the eurozone crisis is the product of a toxic neoliberal economic policy cocktail. The mixing of that cocktail traces all the way back to the early 1980s when Europe embraced the neoliberal economic model that undermined the income-and- demand-generation process via wage stagnation and widened income inequality.”

    As in the election, Shetland’s vital interests are at stake and Shetlanders will be well advised to vote Leave.

    • Robin Stevenson

      • June 21st, 2016 20:22

      John, Scotland [as a whole] does rather well out of the EU, for a start we are the highest paid region of anywhere within the UK, the reason for that is because of the inequality between the South of England and the North of Scotland. Can you honestly see Boris’s Tory government [in the event of a leave vote] subsidising farmers [for example] to the tune of 580 million euros in CAP payments per year?

      What we put in is a fraction of what we get back, I’m afraid that Mr Nugent hasn’t really done his homework on this. Your own ‘classic’ example of misunderstanding what TTIP means within the EU, tells me that perhaps we’re showing the same gullibility that we saw during the Indyref.

      Our MSM speak for the UK John, NOT Scotland, we are entirely different, the UK don’t want equality throughout these Islands they want to retain power in London and talk about the ‘drip down effect’ that never quite happens. Their catch phrase says it all: ‘Take control’…. For whom?



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