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Our future lies within the EU

Source: PSE - April/ May 16

The leader of Manchester City Council and chair of Core Cities UK, Sir Richard Leese, explains why the UK is better off in Europe.

It’s a decision that is ultimately for the British people, but the leaders and mayors of the UK’s core cities are clear – we need to stay in Europe.

From Birmingham to Brno, Manchester to Marseille, Liverpool to Leipzig, the economic fortunes of our cities and the millions that live in them are closely linked to the great cities of the continent. 

We estimate that EU membership has created more than 63,000 jobs and protected at least 16,800 across our 10 cities over the last seven years. 


In Liverpool, for example, investment at John Lennon Airport helped create 2,500 new roles. Leeds estimates that at least 100,000 people will be helped to stay in or get work across its city-region over the next seven years thanks to regional funding. 

The EU has also provided £1.8bn of investment for vital infrastructure in our cities, funding that has helped us build everything from tram lines to trunk roads.

In Manchester, European funding helped create a second Metrolink crossing that will ease commuting times and contribute more than £200m to the local economy a year by 2017. 

Consumer markets 

And EU membership gives us access to 500 million customers, many of whom consume products and services supplied by companies based in our Core Cities. 

Nottingham estimates that 45% of the value of its exports goes to the EU and there are 80 companies based within the city boundaries that have parent companies within the Union. 

Victoria Square Birmingham at dusk c. Cristian Bortes

Global competition 

Economic security is a big reason to stay in, but our cities also benefit from EU membership in other ways that boost our profile and help us prepare for the challenges ahead. 

Bristol became the UK’s first-ever European Green Capital in 2015. The award has helped the city to cement its growing reputation as a leader in sustainability. 

These examples are compelling, but there is also a wider advantage to EU membership for the Core Cities group. In an increasingly interconnected world, our cities need to be part of the European project to stay ahead of the world-wide competition. 

The big issues that affect Cologne, Paris or Madrid are often the big issues affecting Nottingham, Bristol or Birmingham. Everything from refugees, terrorism and climate change are ‘played out’ in the places we represent. 

The floods that affected Leeds and Greater Manchester over Christmas are recent evidence of that. Leave the EU and we risk losing our ability to influence and persuade at a macro level. 

If our cities get the freedoms they need to grow, like the ones enjoyed by cities in Europe, we will be able to fully realise our potential, boosting the UK’s productivity and closing our public spending gap. 

The leaders and mayors of the Core Cities will be campaigning to stay in. However, we won’t lose sight of our key argument – that more city devolution is key to the UK’s long-term economic success.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


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