City of Lincoln Council leader Ric Metcalfe has confirmed that he will be voting to remain in the European Union next month, stating that he “identifies strongly with Europe” but admitting that the EU is not a perfect institution.
The Labour councillor, who was re-elected to the council along with 26 of his party members on Thursday, May 5, had declined to make known his official position on the referendum until after the elections earlier this month.
However, speaking to The Lincolnite on Friday, May 13, Councillor Metcalfe said that he will vote to stay in the European Union on June 23, arguing that Britain is better off and more secure by remaining in the EU.
The council leader said that Lincoln has benefited and will continue to benefit from EU money, which has been redistributed from richer places to lower income areas.
He said: “Some people have argued that Europe is an instrument of capitalism so people on the left should be opposed to it. Of course the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) discussions haven’t helped in this regard, and has strengthened the feeling in some people’s minds that Europe is too eager to embrace the free market.
“It can equally be argued that when you look at a lot of the legislation that the European Parliament has passed, actually it’s been the opposite. It has been a civilising hand on the worst effects of the free market by improving workers’ rights, individual rights and introducing equality legislation.
“You can argue it both ways, but I come down on the side of saying that it’s an institution far more for good than for bad.
For all its imperfections, we’ve got to stay in.
Councillor Metcalfe conceded that there has always been “a strong element” inside the Labour Party which is deeply Eurosceptic, even though the divisions are not as prominent as in the Conservative Party.
He said: “It’s marvellous to see the Tories tearing into one another like it’s a blood sport.
“Obviously you have some quite prominent people on the Labour side wanting to vote to leave. Of course Jeremy Corbyn’s position at one time was anti-EU.
“I don’t know how he’s arrived at the position he has now but I think he probably still has misgivings which he has alluded to with his ‘warts and all’ comment.
“He’s said that it’s not a perfect institution but on balance we’re better in than out, which is pretty much where I stand.”