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David Cameron: Everyone in Cheshire will be stronger, safer and better-off inside the European Union

After a poll suggested motor manufacturers - including Vauxhall Motors - think Britain should remain in the EU, the Prime Minister penned this exclusive column for The Chronicle

Prime Minister David Cameron says the EU referendum will 'shape the destiny of Britain'

There’s a big decision around the corner, and a huge choice for everyone in Cheshire and the broader North West: whether to stay in a reformed European Union, or leave for good.

The big question people need to ask is: will we be better-off inside a reformed EU, or out on our own? In other words, what will happen to jobs?

What would leaving mean for the most important industries in the North West? And what would that mean for your family’s financial security and your children’s future?

My view is straightforward: the North West, just like the rest of the UK, will be stronger, safer and better-off inside the EU.

Related: Vauxhall Motors in favour of remaining in European Union

In a reformed Europe, businesses will continue to have full access to the free trade single market. It’s this market of 500 million consumers that brings the jobs and investment that this region and our country need to thrive.

It’s our trade with Europe that helps businesses to grow and take people on. And it’s our membership of the single market that, together with our skilled workers and industry expertise, helps make the UK a brilliant location for attracting foreign investment.

This is especially the case in vital sectors like the car industry, which depend so heavily on investors who prize our ability to export to the rest of Europe.

Consider these facts...

The car industry now contributes around £12 billion to our economy, with 1.6 million cars rolling off the production lines every year in Britain.

An incredible 80% of those cars are then exported to be sold abroad, with more than half of these exports going to EU countries. So that means there is a huge amount of British jobs tied to our access to this market; around 450,000 jobs in the UK rely on the car industry, either directly through manufacturing, or as part of supply chains.

I know how vital the car industry is for Ellesmere Port and the wider North West.

The region has become a world-class location for car manufacturing, more than one in ten of Britain’s car manufacturing jobs are now based there.

Around 2,000 people work at Ellesmere Port, producing more than 100,000 Astras a year. And it isn’t just Vauxhall itself, it’s the thousands of people employed by Vauxhall’s supply chain across the UK. It’s also the locally-based equipment manufacturers and suppliers. For every pound Vauxhall invest it is worth more than £3.20 elsewhere in the region.

GM chiefs and staff recently unveiled the all new Astra Sports Tourer, which rolled off the production line at Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port plant

All those jobs rely, in part, on access to the EU’s single market. The Vauxhall Astra may be a famous British family car, but the Opel Astra is popular across the EU. In fact, six out of 10 Astras manufactured at Ellesmere Port are exported to the wider European market.

Of course, American, Japanese and other foreign investors are attracted to the UK by a young, dynamic workforce that is able to produce cars so efficiently. But let’s be clear: if we lose access to this huge open market – free from quotas, tariffs and other impediments – the ongoing presence of car manufacturing at this scale simply can’t guaranteed.

Last week, almost 80% of Britain’s car manufacturers and traders said that we must stay in Europe. Their message is loud and clear: jobs are on the line.

If we leave this single market, all of the alternatives involve serious risks to jobs.

We risk a new 10% tariff on car exports, making the UK a less attractive – and perhaps unviable – prospect for manufacturers. We could see additional business costs, with new border taxes, custom checks and expensive bureaucracy. And of course, we’d have no say over the rules in the EU, leaving our big competitors, such as Germany, free to stack the odds against the success of UK industry.

This isn’t a scare story – it’s just a cold, hard economic reality. But from those who advocate leaving the EU, we are not hearing a lot of reality.

Nor are we hearing a lot of economics. Can they look you in the eye and guarantee that these jobs won’t go elsewhere? Can they tell you how much of the £500 billion of trade the UK enjoys with EU countries would be put at risk? Of course they can’t – not when they can’t even agree amongst themselves what kind of trade arrangement they would want to negotiate.

The referendum campaign has just begun, but already it’s clear that leaving the EU is a complete leap into the dark.

'Decision will shape destiny of Britain'

Soon it will be time to make your choice. Risk, economic danger and lost jobs – or a safer, stronger, more prosperous country, with real stability and certainty for our most important industries.

It’s a decision that will shape the destiny of Britain, and affect the future prospects of our children and grandchildren. I’ll be voting to remain. I hope the people in Ellesmere Port and across Cheshire will, too.

Do you agree with the Prime Minister? Leave your views in the comments section below

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