Passionate debate rages as Lincolnshire councillors broadly back leaving EU

Lincolnshire county councillors have been fiercely discussing the merits of remaining in the European Union, with the majority indicating that they will vote to leave in the referendum.

Conservative councillor Tony Bridges, who represents Louth Rural North, brought forward a motion for debate at the full council meeting on February 19.

The motion claimed that the UK would be better off outside the EU, and was seconded by fellow Conservative Mike Brookes, councillor for the Boston Rural electoral division.

A total of 38 councillors supported the motion, with 14 voting against, and three abstaining.

It had been backed by council leader Martin Hill and Executive Member for Finance Marc Jones from as early as last week, with both councillors revealing major doubts over migration and border controls if the UK remained in the EU.

Amendments to the motion by UKIP councillor Robin Hunter-Clarke and Chris Pain from an Independence from Europe were both lost.

Executive Member for Economic Development, Councillor Colin Davie said: “The European issue is so bad that there is 50% youth unemployment in major cities on the continent.

“Europe will combust if they don’t do something about democracy and accountability in the EU.

“Unless we can get a better deal for our country I will be voting to leave.”

Conservative councillor Hugo Marfleet said that migration was “out of control” and described German Chancellor Angela Merkel as “arrogant”.

But Labour councillor Kevin Clarke told the ruling Conservative group: “I thought we were here to represent the people of Lincolnshire.

“If you dislike Cameron so much, vote him out, but don’t bring your dirty washing in here.

“You either vote to stay in the EU or let the Tories trample workers’ rights.”

Fellow Labour councillor Neville Jackson said that he would vote to remain in the EU as he did not want isolation, and cited Siemens’ base at Teal Park and graduate training programmes as another reason for his decision.

“I can look at many UK companies who have not trained young people in many, many years,” he added.

Councillor John Marriott from the Liberal Democrats described himself as a “Euro-pragmatist”, acknowledging the failings of the EU but stating that he would vote to remain in.

Councillor Chris Pain, from An Independence from Europe, said that he was “representing working class people who deserve a break.”

He said: “We can’t keep having masses of unskilled people coming into our country.”

UKIP councillor Richard Fairman, stated that he had being campaigning to leave the EU since 1973, arguing that the UK needs to be “free”, and issued a warning that Tony Benn and Enoch Powell’s warnings about Europe rang true today.

Helen Powell, from the Lincolnshire Independents, said that there was not a level playing field within the EU, and that the UK has “the easiest benefits system to access in the whole of Europe.”

Councillor Robert McAuley, also a member of the Lincolnshire Independents said that the Prime Minister’s negotiations were “a waste of time.”

In his speech, he compared David Cameron’s renegotiations to former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s infamous Munich Agreement which attempted to appease Adolf Hitler in the lead up to the Second World War.