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Chester stop for Lord Paddy Ashdown's Pro-EU tour

Former Lib Dem leader told Chester voters why Britain should stay in the European Union

Former Lib Dem leader Lord Paddy Ashdown swept into Chester on a Pro-European visit where he argued leaving the EU would add £1,000 to an Ellesmere Port -made Vauxhall car sold on the continent.

Lord Ashdown spoke to The Chronicle in between chatting with the public at The Cross – including conversing in French with some French tourists – where he aimed to persuade voters that Britain is stronger as a member of the European Union .

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He was campaigning in the city centre on Tuesday (April 19) ahead of the EU referendum on June 23.

Asked why we should ‘stay in’, Lord Ashdown responded: “Our industry and our commerce depends on it, because our security depends on it. How much would you pay for that?

“If we were to leave Europe, this is what would happen – you would have 10% put on every British car to be put into the continent, which is 40% of our market. That means cars that are made in Vauxhall will cost £1,000 more. That will be a price paid in British jobs.”

Lord Paddy Ashdown converses in French with a group of young Frenchs students at The Cross.

Lord Ashdown, who was a member of the Royal Marines and Special Boat Service before entering politics, continued: “If we were to leave Europe, listen to President Obama who comes here this week to tell us that Nato will be less secure if we’re outside Europe than in. If we were to leave Europe you would find that the rights in the workplace would be diminished.

“If we were to leave Europe you would find that building an environmentally responsible Britain and some of those standards for environmental cleanliness would be reduced.”

Lord Paddy Ashdown with former Lib Dem parliamentary candidate Lizzie Jewkes.

And Lord Ashdown, who said he had visited Lib Dem colleagues in Chester many times and had taken in the ‘obligatory tour of the walls’, concluded: “So how do you want it, stronger economy, more secure in a turbulent and difficult world, more valued and more influential in the world at large. That seems a pretty good deal to me, for what?, 30p for every person in Britain for every week, that’s not much to pay for those kind of advantages.”

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Earlier Lord Ashdown, who intended travelling back to London for ‘key votes’ in the House of Lords, held a lunchtime Q and A session with Lib Dem supporters and local members of the European Movement at Bishop Lloyds Palace on Watergate Row.

There were familiar Lib Dem faces including Upton parish councillor Jean Evans as well as ex-councillors Graham and Sue Proctor, Mark Williams, former parliamentary candidate Lizzie Jewkes plus Neil Lewis, the Lib Dem’s current candidate for the position of Cheshire Police & Crime Commissioner.

Lord Paddy Ashdown with supporters in Bishop Lloyds Palace on Watergate Row.

The Lib Dems lost their solitary Lib Dem representative on Cheshire West and Chester Council at last year’s elections.

Lord Ashdown reflected: “Well, that’s true for much of Britain although down in the south west we are rebuilding. What matters in politics is not where you are but it’s where you’re going and I think the Lib Dems are now rebuilding their strength right across the country. You look at local government by-election results and they’re very, very good for us. I think liberalism is now more relevant to our age than any other political creed.”

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Lord Ashdown’s visit comes after Ukip leader Nigel Farage addressed a rally for 670 people at Chester’s Crowne Plaza hotel last November where he offered a very different view. The party leader said it was the growth of Ukip that had pressured David Cameron into reluctantly agreeing to hold the EU referendum.

He told those gathered: “What has been done in our name is they have literally given away our country. Our message is loud, simple, clear - and I believe, absolutely right - our message is we want our country back, we want out country back, we want our country back.”



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