West Norfolk campaigners make final pleas ahead of EU referendum

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Campaigners in West Norfolk are making their final pleas to voters ahead of this Thursday’s EU referendum.

Formal campaigning resumed yesterday, having been suspended following the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox on Thursday.

And, with opinion polls suggesting the result could still go either way, activists on both sides of the divide say voters face a stark choice when they cast their ballots.

Matthew Hannay, co-ordinator of the Vote Leave campaign in West Norfolk, said Britain should look out to the world, rather than being “little Europeans.”

He said: “We have two choices on Thursday.

“The first is that we remain shackled to an out of date, protectionist, customs union which is not seeing significant economic growth, is over-regulating our small and medium sized businesses and enacting energy policies that are driving up energy prices.

“The second is that we leave, stop paying £20 billion a year in gross membership fees and get around a half back. Our Parliament becomes sovereign and is not dictated to by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels.

“We will revitalise industries such as commercial fishing, steel, ceramics and postal services, retake our seat and vote at the World Trade Organisation and trade with competitive and vibrant markets across the globe.

“Let’s not be inward looking ‘little Europeans’, let’s have a bit of self-confidence to be an outward looking, global trading nation.”

But Robert Colwell, lead volunteer for the King’s Lynn Stronger In campaign, says people should not risk what he claims are the unique advantages the country already enjoys from its position within the EU.

He said: “There is not a shred of evidence that Britain could replicate, let alone improve upon, the benefits we get from being in Europe, by leaving.

“It is most likely that we would risk jobs, trade and investment in exchange for less control over our own economic affairs. All the other potential options would be worse for Britain.

“Whatever we think of the EU’s institutions, its existence is a geographical and commercial reality for Britain. Being in it, we have a say in how it works and affects us.

“We currently have a distinct ‘British model’, with full access to the world’s largest free trade zone but also important opt outs which allow us to remain an independent country.

“Britain is stronger, safer and better off in Europe than we would be out on our own. Leaving Europe would risk our prosperity, threaten our safety and diminish our influence in the world. The benefits of being in clearly outweigh the costs.”

Meanwhile, ahead of the vote, electoral officials are urging residents to check where, and plan when, they intend to cast their votes.

A total of 107 polling stations will be open across West Norfolk between 7am and 10pm.

And West Norfolk Council chief executive Ray Harding, who is acting as the borough’s counting officer for the poll, said: “I encourage residents to take a few minutes to plan what time they will arrive at the polling station.

“Polling stations are open from 7am until 10pm and the busiest time is usually in the late afternoon – when parents come with their children after school - and early evening when people come to vote after work.

“Voters who can be flexible, may want to avoid the peak times.”

Residents voting at the King’s Lynn Masonic Centre are also being encouraged to allow extra time to get to and from the venue, because of the ongoing road closures affecting Hamburg Way and Spenser Road.

The borough’s votes will be counted in Lynn and a result is expected to be declared in the early hours of Friday morning.