Worcester’s MP, Robin, Walker, who spoke out to secure a referendum on the EU, has announced his decision to support reform in Europe rather than leaving. He has published a detailed essay covering a number of the factors that led to him forming this decision and the full argument can be found here:
On the day that the current Mayor of London and fellow MP, Boris Johnson announced that he had decided to come out for the leave campaign after “agonising” over his decision, Walker has similarly agonised, but come to a different conclusion. He shares the position of fellow Worcestershire MP and Business Secretary Sajid Javid that, whilst the heart might want to take Britain out, the head warns that this is too great a risk in current circumstances.
Robin examined the arguments for staying or leaving over five different categories:
- Britain’s place in the world
- The Economy & Competitiveness
- Parliamentary Sovereignty
- Security and Britain’s borders
- The changing nature of Europe
He concluded that there were some strong arguments on each side, on each of these factors but that on balance, after the Prime Minister’s negotiation had delivered progress on a number of points and a special status for the UK, the benefits of staying in and fighting Britain’s corner outweighed those of leaving. Robin believes Britain can do more to assert its sovereignty and will be pushing for further progress on a British Bill of Rights and a UK Sovereignty Bill. He will be supporting the campaign group Conservatives for Reform in Europe, which takes a similarly Euro-sceptic view but will be campaigning for the Remain side of the referendum.
Summarising the reasons for his decision, Robin said that he felt the responsibility to do the right thing by Worcester and that he needed to be able to look people in the eye and say that he had taken the right decision for the majority of his constituents. He set out how he had begun his career thinking about Europe in black and white terms but his experience as a constituency MP and working with different Government departments helped him to see a more nuanced picture of the pros and cons. He concluded that the risks of Britain leaving the EU were too great and that although both campaigns have exaggerated some of the arguments and risk factors, he could not take the risk of seeing people in Worcester losing their jobs.
Commenting on his decision Robin said:
“This is not a decision I have taken lightly. I think it is profoundly important that everyone in Britain has their say in this referendum and I am proud to have played a small part in securing it. There are strong arguments on both sides and I respect those who will disagree with me. At the end of the day however I am now comfortable that fighting Britain’s corner in a reformed and changing European Union is a better option that taking the risk of coming out. I have no doubt that the debate will rage hotly in Worcester as around the country, but it is my mature judgement based on experience and pragmatism rather than ideology, that we are now better off staying in.”
Notes to editors:
For Robin’s speech on the need for an EU referendum in 2011 see:
He spoke up for a referendum again in the debate on the Queens Speech in 2013 and voted for it repeatedly throughout the Coalition Government
In 2013 he also set out how people who had rebelled to secure a referendum should get behind the PM’s negotiation strategy to back a better deal in Europe in an article for Conservative Home
Robin asked the Prime Minister about Britain’s wider relationship with the world two weeks ago in Parliament and the question and answer can be found here:
Details of the Prime Ministers’ negotiation on the EU can be found here:
Details of the Conservatives for Reform in Europe campaign can be found here: