MP blasted over support for EU referendum call

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A YORKSHIRE businessman has attacked his local MP for backing a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union and warned his company’s existence depended on the survival of the single market.

Andy Atkins-Krueger, who runs an internet marketing company in Poppleton, near York, bitterly criticised Tory MP Julian Sturdy for voting in favour of a referendum and said up to 50 jobs at his business were being put at risk by MPs who threatened the UK’s membership of the EU.

But Mr Sturdy, MP for York Outer, said he voted on principle and that British people had a right to a say over the country’s relationship with the EU.

Mr Atkins-Krueger, chief executive of WebCertain, said being part of the EU single market had major advantages as a gateway for trade beyond Europe’s boundaries.

“As a business we depend on exports. More than 55 per cent of our business comes from export most of which is actually from the US, some from the EU,” he said.

“However, the reason we are able to attract US business here is partly because we are situated within the EU and have access to the wider market.

“Can you imagine the position if all the Americans hear is about how the UK is likely to or is discussing pulling out of the EU? The Americans are hard businesspeople who would switch their allegiances very quickly and would most likely place their business in Germany rather than the UK.

“Business is about confidence – you don’t even have to pull out of the EU, you just need to threaten to and all of a sudden US companies will think they have to go and work in Germany instead.”

Mr Atkins-Krueger decried the “lousy” timing of Monday’s debate – which coincided with critical talks over the single European currency – and dismissed the actions of Euro-sceptic MPs as “dangerous and foolhardy”.

He added that Mr Sturdy had been “prepared to risk jobs of people in his constituency”.

However, the MP said Monday’s Commons debate was a result of a public petition and its timing was not related to the current EU summit over the eurozone.

Mr Sturdy, who was one of 79 Tories who defied a government whip to vote for a referendum, said he supported the economic principles behind a bloc of nations creating a single market but the EU’s powers had extended well beyond what was envisaged when Britain joined its forerunner, the European Economic Community (EEC).

He said: “I’ve always believed we joined the EU as a group of trading nations and I support that principle. But sadly what has happened over the years is that it has changed out of all recognition and ultimately that is why people should have a say. It’s changed dramatically from what we started with 36 years ago.

“It’s a very important trading bloc, I still believe in that as a core principle but the powers invested in the EU and the impact on our country is too great.

“We must start a renegotiation process. If we can’t renegotiate we might have to come out at that point – but that is down to the British people.”

Mr Sturdy highlighted three particular areas in which he believed EU powers had gone too far – employment law, health and safety and human rights.