MEPs to face quiz from Fylde firms over EU future

MEP Sajjad Karim, one of three MEPs who will be debating EU membership with businesses

MEP Sajjad Karim, one of three MEPs who will be debating EU membership with businesses

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With Prime Minister David Cameron this week bowing to backbenchers over the rules about the forthcoming EU Referendum debate, and increasing pressure over cross border migration following harrowing images of refugees crossing the Mediterranean, the issue of the UK’s European membership is right in the spotlight.

The Government has promised a vote on whether to stay in the EU or not by the end of 2017, and this month businesses will get the chance to grill three of Lancashire’s Euro MPs on the subject as they go in front of an audience of the county’s businessmen and women in a live debate.

Conservative Sajjad Karim, Labour’s Julie Ward and UKIP’s Steven Woolfe will be grilled during the two-hour event at Preston’s College on Friday, September 18 from 10am until noon.

And organisers from the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce (NWLCC) are expecting a big turnout from members at the free event, which will follow the format of the BBC’s Question Time.

The event has been organised as part of the Chamber’s delivery of Europe Direct Lancashire, which aims to provide local citizens with information, advice and assistance for all matters relating to the European Union, shaped around local and regional priorities.

NWLCC chief executive Babs Murphy said: “This event is a chance for our members to meet with and speak to our MEPs up close and personal to get any answers they have been looking for. Our free event is their chance to quiz the MEPs on how they see the relationship between the UK and the rest of Europe developing. And, importantly, how it will affect their business.”

Sajjad Karim said: “This area is a dynamic force in the British and EU economy and our SMEs are the backbone.

“A European referendum provides a much-needed opportunity for an informed debate. Having led on EU reforms for many years in the European Parliament, I know the complexities and welcome the chance to discuss, in my constituency, what is at stake.”

Julie Ward said: “I am a committed European, having seen the difference mobility makes to young people, transforming them into self-reliant, outward-looking aspirational beings.

“On a macro-level, being part of the world’s largest single market helps to build business confidence and attract investment while at the same time safeguarding employment and consumer rights.”

Steven Woolfe said: “Increasingly, North West businesses are recognising that an outward-looking, global trading Britain does not depend on EU membership.”