City council votes on supporting Britain’s EU membership

On Monday evening, the City Council voted on a motion supporting Britain’s membership of the EU, although the result has yet to be made public. Proposed by the Green Party group leader Councillor Craig Simmons and seconded by Councillor Elise Benjamin, also from the Greens, the motion was entitled “Oxford City Council supports EU membership”.

According to the motion, “Oxford is an international City, with three EU twin towns, and a proud City of Sanctuary. The last census in 2011 showed that 1 in 10 of its resident population were born in EU countries other than UK. The City Council has benefited directly from more than £1m of EU funding … Oxford’s economy also benefits enormously from EU tourism (9 out of the top 10 countries of origin are other EU states), from EU funding to its Universities”.

The text concludes “Of course, the EU is not perfect. But neither is Westminster. It needs to be more democratically accountable, transparent and efficient. This Council, however, believes that reform will be easier if the UK remains within the EU.”

Speaking to the Oxford Times, the Labour Councillor John Tanner said the upcoming EU referendum amounts to “an unnecessary measure to please sections of the Conservative Party and threatens Oxford’s future”.

The debate follows a Vote Leave rally at the weekend at St Hugh’s where the Conservative Leader of the House of Commons Chris Grayling and the UKIP MP Douglas Carswell addressed crowds. Mr Carswell was quoted in the Oxford Mail as saying: “The safe thing for us to do is vote leave and take back control.” He suggested Britain could be a “much more prosperous and happier” country if the electorate vote to leave the EU on 23 June.

Mr Grayling meanwhile said he was supporting the official “out” campaign because “I want Britons to live in an independent county and I want us to be able to make decisions which are in our national interest. I don’t want others to be making decisions for us.”

A number of college JCRs have voted to affirm their support for Britain remaining in the EU and OUSU has also voted to support Britain’s continuing membership.

Amongst other political societies,  OUCA have pledged to remain neutral during the campaign as there are a large number of members supporting either side. Such a stance is similar to that of the Conservative Party itself. OULC have voted to back Britain’s membership of the European Union, also broadly in line with the view of their party nationally. 

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