Clashes as Miliband backs EU '˜stay' vote
Former Labour leader Ed Miliband was heckled by anti-Europe supporters as he swept into Blackpool to back the Remain campaign.
Mr Miliband was on board Labour’s Battle Bus which is touring the country to urge voters to opt to stay in the European Union when the referendum is held on June 23.
But he got a mixed reaction in Blackpool where tempers flared between supporters from both camps.
Hecklers pinpointed the impact of immigration from other parts of Europe on job opportunities in Blackpool, and claimed being part of the EU had done nothing for some of the poorest parts of the town.
However the MP, who was accompanied by actress Sue Cleaver who plays Eileen Grimshaw in Coronation Street, told the crowd gathered in St John’s Square this was “a referendum about the future of our country”, adding “on a very basic principle it is about solidarity – it is about achieving more together than we can alone”.
Mr Miliband told The Gazette he realised many people were still undecided about how they would vote.
He said: “All the problems we face as a country, creating jobs, trade, climate change, tackling crime – I think we are stronger doing that with other countries.”
On immigration, he said the UK had the power to veto Turkey joining the EU in response to concerns this would bring more people to the UK seeking jobs, and added staying in the EU would make the country economically stronger, thus protecting jobs that way.
He said: “I think there are concerns over immigration but the way to deal with those concerns is stopping employers undercutting wages which we can do, and stopping things like tied housing which we can do.”
Leaflets handed out at the rally said Blackpool’s trams had benefitted from a £670,000 EU cash injection, £3m had gone towards the new sea defences and £14m from Europe helped the council buy the Tower and Winter Gardens.
Mr Miliband said: “I think it is easy for people not to recognise the money that is spent in Blackpool from the EU and on top of that there are the trade benefits.
“Young people are overwhelmingly for staying in because they don’t remember a world where you couldn’t travel around freely within the EU.”