The campaign to keep Britain in the European Union began this week, and I want to tell you why I am excited.
I passionately believe that Sunderland, the North East and the UK as a whole is better off inside the EU.
I am excited, because of my determination to convince as many people as possible of why we should stay in.
I am convinced that our continued membership makes us stronger, safer and better off.
The EU is crucial for jobs, in our region and across the country.
Up to 160,000 jobs in the North East rely on trade with the EU.
Nationally, that figure is over three million.
Nissan this week publically backed our EU membership, stating that remaining in the EU “makes the most sense for jobs, trade and costs.”
The EU is vital for investment. The North East is a net recipient of EU funds, having received billions of pounds in investment over the decades from the EU to fund projects such as the Vaux site development in Sunderland.
Over the next five years we will get £724m in EU funds.
The EU is outstanding value for money. Opponents will often say that the costs of our membership is £340 per household.
But what they don’t say is that the benefits of the EU are worth £3,000 a year to every household, due to lower prices, trade and investment.
That’s a return of almost 10 to 1 on our investment.
Britain is safer as part of the EU. We influence key decisions and work with our European partners to ensure a coordinated response to international threats like terrorism, organised crime and climate change.
British workers are better off in the EU, which protects rights such as paid leave, maternity holidays and rights for agency workers.
This won’t be the last time you hear from me on this issue.
I will be campaigning in Sunderland and the North East, to campaign for jobs, security, and Britain’s place in the world.