Business

Tories should reach out to other parties for EU support, Lords

Peers have urged the government to be more positive over remaining in the EU

THE Conservative government should draw on support from across the political spectrum to make the case for the UK to stay in the EU, a Lords committee has said.

A report by the House of Lords EU committee urges the government to spell out its vision for a reformed European Union.

It said the Tories should articulate the positive benefits of EU membership, clearly presented to the public, rather than "playing on the fear of the alternative".

Peers suggest the government should affirm the shared identity and heritage of the peoples of Europe to support their case.

Key recommendations of the report were that David Cameron should emphasise the positive aspects of staying in the EU and the government must recognise the diversity of domestic public opinion, "across and within the regions and nations of the UK".

Committee chairman Lord Boswell said: "The committee concludes that the Government will need allies from across the political parties. That means it will need to communicate a positive vision of what the EU can be in order to convince people to vote yes. Playing on voters' fears may not be enough."

"There is a real opportunity now, in the wake of the deal struck in Brussels, that the UK can show leadership in helping to make the EU a more flexible, dynamic and competitive place. And in light of last week's attacks in Brussels, the UK can play a crucial role in helping the EU combat the threat of terrorism, and in strengthening internal security."

"But first the Government will try to convince the people, and to do that it needs to aim higher and wider than the terms of the deal, appealing to the values that we share with our compatriots in the EU. It needs to try to capture the spirit that we saw in Wembley last year, when England football fans sang the Marseillaise after the attacks in Paris."

An informal poll carried out by the Irish News into the attitudes of Northern Ireland businesses found around 90 per cent wished for the UK to remain in the EU.

It tallied with several other surveys that have found overwhelming support from the business community in the north for remaining in the European Union.

Meanwhile, recruitment site Adzuna has said the recovery in the jobs market has slowed "significantly" amid uncertainty about the impending EU referendum.

It study found vacancies had dropped in the last three months, especially in travel, manufacturing and retail firms.

Northern Ireland and the south-east of England suffered the biggest fall in advertised vacancies in this period.

Adzuna said there were 1.1 million jobs advertised last month, around 10 per cent fewer than last November.

A potential Brexit, and the new national living wage, which comes into effect on Friday, were creating an "unpredictable" feeling among employers, it said.

Doug Monro of Adzuna said: "There are signs that caution is controlling the current UK jobs market and stalling the recovery. One possible explanation is that uncertainty around Brexit means hiring intentions have been paused."

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