THE OVERWHELMING majority of the region’s MPs will back Britain staying in the European Union when the referendum is held on June 23.
With only four MPs still to declare one way or another, the ‘remain’ campaign can expect the support of most of the region’s Westminster politicians.
All of Labour’s Yorkshire MPs are following the party’s declared support for EU membership and will be joined in the ‘remain’ camp by the region’s two Liberal Democrat MPs.
But Conservative MPs in Yorkshire are split on the issue.
Harrogate MP Andrew Jones, one of those backing the Prime Minister, said: “In my judgment, the economic and political concessions the Prime Minister has won are, in themselves, a good enough reason to conclude that jobs, businesses and economic prosperity are better served by our remaining in the European Union on the new terms.
“They give us some certainty in what is an increasingly volatile and uncertain global economic picture.”
On what would happen if Britain left the EU, Mr Jones said: “Everyone can guess. No one knows.”
Keighley MP Kris Hopkins is also among Conservatives backing Britain’s EU membership.
He said: “I have no appetite for our great nation pulling up the drawbridge and adopting a narrow, ‘Little Englander’ approach.
“The United Kingdom has the fifth largest economy in the world and we should have the self-confidence to reach out to our European partners and work together for mutual benefit.
“This includes challenging policies we disagree with from within, rather than standing shouting from the sidelines.
“And crucially, a vote in favour of the remaining within the EU does not mean a return to business as usual.
“As a result of the concessions the Prime Minister worked tirelessly to win over many months, the United Kingdom will have a special status within the European Union should we choose to stay in.”
Mr Hopkins declared he would be “campaigning hard” for a ‘remain’ vote but that commitment will not be matched by other Conservatives also backing continued EU membership.
Elmet and Rothwell MP Alec Shelbrooke has declared his personal decision to vote ‘remain’ but will not campaign for others to follow his example, arguing his role was to secure a referendum and it is for constituents to decide for themselves.
As it stands, eight Conservative MPs in Yorkshire will find themselves on the opposite side of the referendum debate to their Prime Minister and party leader.
Explaining his decision, Selby and Ainsty MP Nigel Adams said: “EU rules have sped up the closure of Kellingley Colliery and several power stations across the country and EU directives continue to threaten jobs right here in the Selby and Ainsty constituency.
“Even when our government decides to support businesses like Drax Power Station by helping it convert to biomass, the EU can and does challenge the decision.”
Mr Adams said the ‘remain’ campaign would be negative and “scaremongering” but he “was more positive about Britain and it’s place in the world”.
He added: “Our relationship with Europe is deep rooted and whilst we may not agree on every issue with our European neighbours, we can forge a new relationship based on free trade and co-operation which will be to all our benefits.”
York Outer MP Julian Sturdy is expected to declare his intentions this week after holding meetings with his local party and speaking to constituents. An announcement is also expected from Beverley MP Graham Stuart.