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Paddy Ashdown coming to Chester to back pro-Europe cause

Former Lib Dem leader will campaign at The Cross 

Paddy Ashdown Picture by Simon Hadley

Former Lib Dem leader Lord Paddy Ashdown is holding a pro-European rally in Chester next week to reach out to voters with the message that Britain is stronger as a member of the EU.

Lord Ashdown is campaigning in the city on Tuesday (April 19) ahead of the EU referendum on June 23.

He will meet with regional and national press at Bishop Lloyds Palace in Watergate Street before holding a lunchtime question and answer session with the public and local members of the European Movement.

Paddy Ashdown on the campaign trail in Chester during a previous visit.

Lord Ashdown, who was a member of the Royal Marines and Special Boat Service before entering politics, will talk about how the campaign is going and why this is the ‘decision of a generation’.

Related story: Cheshire West MPs will all vote YES to EU

He will finish the day by campaigning with members of the European Movement in the heart of Chester by the historic cross.

A spokesman said he will be ‘talking to members of the public about why EU membership is essential for them, their families and Britain’s future’.

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.

Related story: Nigel Farage enjoys curry and a pint in Chester

UKIP leader Nigel Farage addresses a Chester audience at the Crowne Plaza hotel as part of his 'Say No to EU' tour(Image: David Holmes)

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.”

Related story: David Cameron praises Ellesmere Port Vauxhall plant as a UK 'success story'

Leaflets have been dropping on Cestrians’ doormats for both sides of the debate.

Pro-European pamphlets have produced by the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign backed by notables including Stuart Rose, the former executive chairman of Marks & Spencer, Labour peer Peter Mandelson, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and Tory baroness Karren Brady, who is also an aide to Lord Sugar on BBC’s The Apprentice.

Karren Brady features in the Britain Stronger in Europe leaflet which landed on doormats in Chester

The leaflet stated: “The vote will be final: if the UK decides to leave, we will leave. There will be no going back. And there is so much at stake: jobs, the prices in our shops, rights in the workplace, our national security and the opportunities for future generations.”

In contrast, the Leave.EU leaflet argued: “In 1975 we voted for a Free Trade Area known then as the Common Market. Since that time it has sought without approval ever greater political union. This takes away our right to choose our own future and how we trade with the rest of the world.”

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