Simon Danczuk MP

Fighting for Rochdale, Littleborough and Milnrow

Letter from Parliament 10 June

As polling day approaches, the European Union debate has been increasingly dominated by immigration.

Since becoming an MP, I have never shied away from raising concerns about mass immigration and particularly the impact it has had on working class communities like Rochdale.

But worryingly for those of us in favour of the UK’s membership of the EU, the key figures in the Remain camp have yet to come up with a convincing argument on immigration.

Meanwhile, Nigel Farage and his fellow Leavers have seized the initiative by exploiting the understandable anxiety caused by the large number of EU migrants who have arrived in the UK since 2004.

But despite the claims of the Out Campaign, EU immigrants contribute more in taxes than they take out, safeguards are in place to prevent “benefit tourism” and the idea that Turkey might join the EU in the foreseeable future is a cynical scare tactic.

Undeniably, both Labour and the Conservatives have made serious errors in immigration policy in the past, but leaving the EU is not the way to solve these problems.

In the event of Brexit, we would still have an utterly broken asylum system which dumps hundreds of vulnerable people in towns like Rochdale. The UK would still be the destination of choice for many of those fleeing conflict in Africa and the Middle East. EU citizens would still be free to settle here so that the UK could remain part of the single market.

But as an active participant in the EU we can work together to tackle the challenges of immigration.

We can reach agreements to host an even share of asylum seekers across all 28 member states. We can do more to mitigate the migrant crisis by using our collective political and economic power to influence foreign regimes. We can use trade and investment to boost economies overseas and remove the push factors which drive people towards the UK.

Whatever argument they chose to make, it is important that David Cameron and the Remain team speak up about immigration. Otherwise the silence could cost us our membership of European Union.

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