Almost one in every ten jobs in East Anglia are linked to trade with the EU. Over 40,000 businesses in the region trade with the EU. And investment from EU companies has created 7500 jobs in the East of England over the past 5 years. What then for the future?
Norwich MP Chloe Smith is arguing that a successful Brexit requires us to build on this, through looking to developing our relationships with the rest of the world, without losing the ones we already enjoy in Europe.
Speaking in the House of Commons last week, Chloe said:
“To leave the EU must not mean leaving behind a strong economy or a strong cultural exchange.
“Norwich in particular needs a good deal on financial services. The financial services sector makes the largest single contribution to the economy of Norfolk and Suffolk, at 13.4% of GVA worth £3.1 billion.
“Norwich is the largest general insurance centre in the UK and home to well-known brands including Aviva (formerly Norwich Union), Marsh, Virgin Money, Royal Bank of Scotland, Central Trust Capital and Swiss Re. That’s a heritage going back more than 200 years, and going strong today employing thousands of people.
“We also enjoy an ambitious science sector, with world-leading research at the Norwich Research Park; a thriving cultural scene, with much cross-border collaboration; and a strong tourism industry.
“I want a deal on leaving the EU that supports these sectors. I also expect long-deserved investment from the domestic government, such as into our forthcoming next rail franchise, which will support these sectors.”
On immigration, Chloe said:
“Norwich does not welcome racism or any form of aggression. Let us be clear that those who have made Great Britain their home are respected and valued.
“However, whilst we look for common sense for those already living here, we have work ahead of us to settle future immigration policy. The referendum result provides a clear instruction to the government that the majority wish is for a change in the way Britain handles immigration from Europe. To leave the EU means to leave the existing arrangements for free movement.”
Norwich itself voted to remain. However, as the MP for Norwich North, Chloe’s constituency also includes wards from the neighbouring Broadland district, which voted to leave.
Commenting on the vote, and the correspondence she’s received, Chloe said:
“It’s not a simple maths job to know how most of my constituents voted on this particular issue.
“Before the poll, most constituents that got in touch wanted to persuade me to vote out. After the poll, I am hearing most from people wanting to persuade me to vote against going out!
“This does reminds us that there really is a silent majority that never gets in touch with their MP. Counting all those people together who’ve been in touch on either side of this debate still numbers only a few hundred out of the 67,000 I represent.
“So, I welcome any tool – like a referendum – that encourages so many more to be heard. The recent vote was undoubtedly among the biggest expressions of democracy in our nation’s history. As an MP who has always pushed for greater democratic engagement, I am pleased that over 33 million people took part.”
Chloe has pledged to speak up for Norwich as the detailed work on negotiating our exit from the EU gets underway. She is also publishing regular updates via her website, to keep constituents in the loop on what is happening.