Prime Minister David Cameron was in Bury St Edmunds this afternoon to talk up the benefits of Britain remaining in the European Union.
Mr Cameron paid a visit to Greene King brewery, in Westgate Street, to fly the flag for the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign ahead of next Thursday’s knife-edge referendum.
The Prime Minister addressed questions on immigration, the single market and Vote Leave’s pledge to maintain EU grants until 2020 in the event of a Brexit.
Mr Cameron said: “I wanted to come back to the eastern region again because it is actually going to be crucial in the out come of this referendum.
“This is a region which exports almost 50 percent of what it sells overseas goes to Europe.
“There are hundreds of thousands of jobs here reliant with our trade with Europe and we’ve only got ten days to make sure we remain in a reformed European Union which is good for our economy, good for jobs, good for growth and we shouldn’t take the risk of harming jobs and harming growth prospects and harming living standards here by pulling out of Europe.
Asked about the Vote Leave’s campaign’s plan to maintain EU grants the Prime Minister said: “I think the problem with that is the independent experts at the Institute of Fiscal Studies and the national institute both agree that if we pull out of the EU we would actually see our economy shrink and our tax revenue shrink so it won’t be a saving it would actually be a cost of up to £40 billion and so we wouldn’t have money for replacing those grants that we are talking about so we would be considering cuts, cuts to public services or increases in taxes.
“All the experts agree there is no financial saving from leaving the EU.”
“What I would say to anyone who is undecided is that if you haven’t decided yet, don’t risk it.
“It’s not just the experts like the bank of England the nine out of ten economists , the IMF who say there would be a recession, there would be a reduction of growth, we would see our economy suffer its also that it is so clear we need the access to the single market of 500 million people for the good of our businesses.
“That is where half of our products and services in this part of the country go and if we were to leave that market and had less good access to that market it stands to sense that businesses would suffer, jobs would suffer, living standards would suffer and so my message is don’t risk it.
Asked about the fear of immigration in the region he said: “I think we need to get it into perspective.
“I think the population of the eastern region just four percent are EU nations so if we stopped 100 people out in the street we would find four of them were from France or Germany or Poland or another European country but of course under my renegotiation what’s going to happen is people who come here if they come looking for a job they don’t get unemployment benefit, if they don’t have a job within six months we can ask them to leave and if they do work they have to work here for four years before they get full access to our welfare system - so we are ending something for nothing.
“People can come but they have to pay in before they get out and I think that will have widespread support in towns like Bury St Edmunds.”
Rooney Anand, Greene King chief executive, said: “We were delighted to host the Prime Minister at our Bury St Edmunds brewery today as part of his wider visit to the region.
“The Prime Minister had the opportunity see first-hand how our fine real ale is brewed.
“Members of the Greene King team enjoyed sharing their passion for brewing and asking the Prime Minister questions about the referendum to help them make a decision about how to vote on June 23.”