Brexit could ‘threaten port jobs’, claims Suffolk MEPas he visits Port of Felixstowe
- Credit: Sarah Lucy brown
Britain’s busiest container terminal became the focus again yesterday for the EU vote debate – as portworkers were told leaving the European Union could threaten their future prospects.
Euro MP Richard Howitt met portworkers and directors – including chief operating officer Stephen Abraham – to warn about the dangers of Brexit.
Some 26% of exports from Felixstowe go to Europe and Mr Howitt claimed changes could cause uncertainty which could effect more than 2,500 local jobs.
The Labour MEP has consistently championed British ports and port workers over European legislation and has twice fought EU Port Services Regulation laws due to concerns over employment rights, safety and investment.
The most recent proposals sought to ensure equal access to ports for shipping companies, but Mr Howitt felt it could mean unfair subsidies in other countries which could undermine fair competition.
He said: “Unless Britain remains in the European Union after June 23 there will be a huge uncertainty when it comes to handling trade.
“That is bad for trade, bad for business and bad for Felixstowe. That is why I am pleased to visit the Port of Felixstowe today where the ‘remain’ vote is hugely backed not just by directors but by workers as well.
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“Trade with the European Union has given workers job security as well as better rights at work such as paid holiday and fair working conditions.
“The ports which I represent are a major engine for jobs and growth.
“Space for one million sq ft of new distribution space was added just last year at Felixstowe.”
Prime Minister David Cameron also made a keynote speech on Europe to employees, port customers and councillors during a visit to the port – pointing out the importance of the 500 million people market of which Britain is a part and which Felixstowe, marketed as the Port of Britain, is a vital component.
Clemence Cheng, chief executive of Hutchison Ports (UK) Ltd, said: “26% of exports from Felixstowe go to other European Union countries and, during his speech, Mr Cameron acknowledged that good trading relations are important with all countries to help the UK economy continue to thrive.”