“This is a once in a generation vote.”
York Outer MP Julian Sturdy will vote to leave the European Union on June 23rd, but he isn’t aligned with any of the official out campaigns.
“Part of the problem with the debate at the moment is that neither side has conducted themselves well, and it’s turned into a tit-for-tat argument,” Mr Sturdy told YorkMix.
“I’m critical of both sides on this. Both sides are running negative campaigns when really we should be talking about the positives.”
Immigration has been a major topic as the European debate hots up, but is it an issue York residents should be concerned about?
“I personally don’t think it is. I don’t think it does impact on York.
“This country, and York, has benefitted hugely from immigration over the years. But the issue is that we need to be able to control it. It’s something that we need to be able to control through our own parliament rather than through the European Union.
“Immigration isn’t the big reason why I’ll be voting to leave the EU. For me it’s more about control, it’s more about sovereignty.”
‘Won’t affect tourism’
According to Kate McMullen, head of tourism at Make It York, York welcomes more than 100,000 visitors per year from around Europe.
This has a significant effect on York’s economy, but Mr Sturdy considers that tourists will visit our city whether we’re in our out.
“Tourism is hugely important to York, and it’s hugely important to the county as well, but I don’t think there would be an impact from a vote to leave.
“I think people want to visit York because it’s a beautiful city and because it has a huge historic pull, and I don’t think that’s going to change.”
The long view
Mr Sturdy admits there will be a period of economic uncertainty if the country does vote to leave, but believes it will be much further down the line when we will begin to see the rewards.
“As I’ve said, this is a once in a generation opportunity, and the way I look at it is that it’s a vote for the longer term rather than the short term.
“I’m looking ten or 20 years on and that’s when I think we’ll start to reap the benefits from coming out of the European Union.”
He also believes smaller-sized businesses would be the ones to benefit.
“Small business is the life-blood of the economy, not just in York but across the country, and I think if we leave the EU then that will benefit those small business.
“They are constantly held back by red tape in Brussels, even when they aren’t trading within the EU, they’re just trading within the UK.”
The farming question
Farmers in the surrounding areas of York may be struggling to decide which way to go. More liberal rules on their food and crops could be beneficial, but some are reliant on migrant workers.
“We’ve got to accept that migrant workers play an important role in the agricultural industry, and I see that continuing,” said Sturdy.
“I don’t see there being a huge change over that – what I do see the change being is that we have control over it.
“So while it’s an important part of these industries, and will continue to be that, we’ll have control over it rather than Europe. So for me it goes back to the sovereignty argument.”
Once in a lifetime chance
Sturdy, a member of the Conservative party just like his father, has always seen himself as Eurosceptic.
“I rebelled against my government back in 2011 on this very issue so I’m delighted they’ve come around to my way of thinking.
“I think the politician’s job is done by delivering this referendum.
“This is a vote for the people and the country. My vote will count as much as anyone else’s vote and that’s exactly the way it should be.”
But he warns that the public must think carefully about which way they decide to go.
“I will always say to people that this is not a short-term vote. This isn’t a vote where you should be thinking about what’s best for the next two or three years.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity so people have to think carefully about what they want.”