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Ashford MP Damian Green defends EU membership in speech

Ashford MP Damian Greenby political editor Paul Francis

Ashford MP Damian Green has mounted a strong defence of Britain's membership of the EU, saying it holds the key to jobs and inward investment in the country.

In a keynote speech to the Bright Blue Conservative think-tan, the minister has confronted his party's Euro-sceptic wing by arguing that the British economy benefits from being in the EU.

He said it would be folly to put jobs at risk by renegotiating membership.

"There is [though] a hard-headed pragmatic economic argument that our membership is to the advantage of the British economy, and therefore the British people, and that this remains the case even with the enormous current problems faced by the Eurozone," the MP said.

Other EU members would not accept a situation in which Britain remained part of the single market but was outside the EU in other respects, he added.

"There is a fantastic vision of an EU which remains a single market, including the UK, but which in all other respects allows the UK to be outside. This is a fantastic vision precisely because it is a fantasy.

"What is in this for those on the other side of the negotiation? "

The UK economy was being helped by the decisions of global manufacturing
companies to locate in the country to sell into the European market.

"If you were a company in China or India wishing to set up a base in Europe, would you be more or less likely to choose Britain if we had withdrawn? Staying in and fighting is the best way to meet our economic needs."

The MP's intervention in the debate about the EU comes against a backdrop of calls by many Conservatives for a referendum on Britain's membership.

Many say the party is suffering because it is failing to take a tougher line on the issue and losing out to UKIP.

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