From 1992 to 2010, as the Labour MP for North Warwickshire, I represented workers in the geographical centre of England. It is a mostly white, working class constituency. After 2008, unlike many areas, it weathered the recession relatively well because new Business Parks attracted investment and created new jobs. But the new businesses also attracted hundreds of Eastern European workers. Local workers told me on the doorstep, “They’re nice people, they work hard, but there are just too many of them”. As the pro-EU son of immigrants I reminded people about the benefits of the EU and immigration, but people made it clear to me that they understood the link between membership of the EU and free movement of labour and they no longer saw it as in their economic interest to remain in the EU. When Cameron offered them a chance to leave the EU, I was unsurprised that my area voted strongly to leave.
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