Cambridge City Council today debates a motion supporting the European Union – you can read the full motion on the council’s web site. My contribution to the debate is below – the debate is still ongoing but the balance of speeches so far suggests the motion should pass comfortably.
Like many others in this chamber, I appreciate the hard-won advances in equality that have been secured by the UK’s membership of the EU. Advances such as Equal Pay for women and men; employment protection on the basis of religion, belief, sexual orientation and age; and vital progress towards ending human trafficking.
These have been won not just for people of Cambridge, nor for just the population of the United Kingdom, but for over 700 million people across the EU member states.
And the biggest advance of all: Seventy years of relative peace. It is always those who find themselves most unfortunately at the bottom of society who, despite having so little already, stand the most to lose from war and conflict.
But I share concern expressed by many about the direction of debate. A debate that has to date been dominated by men such as David Cameron, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage and has seen twice as many women as men respond in polls that they do not know how they will vote.
Although politics across the board has performed poorly in gaining representation from BAME people, in other respects the city council has, on all sides, avoided becoming dominated by any one group, be it gender or any other protected characteristic. I believe that a strong pro-European-Union message from us here today – that we recognise and appreciate that progress towards equality – will help to reengage people who feel left out of the debate so far and who stand to benefit most from this work.