The Referendum Is Not About Immigration: Here's Why

26/02/2016 17:44 GMT | Updated 26/02/2017 10:12 GMT

The EU referendum is a massive decision which we all have to make and it affects jobs, investment, our rights and safety. Some people want to make the referendum about immigration but the evidence suggests a leave vote would give us no increased control over our own borders. In fact, leaving the EU could actually cause migration to rise.

Britain Stronger In Europe have found that rather than giving us greater control over our borders, as those who wish to leave the EU claim, exiting the EU may actually make our borders more difficult to control.

Eurosceptics suggest that Britain could be like Norway or Switzerland if we left the EU, but both of these options come with many downsides.

Both Switzerland and Norway have to allow for freedom of movement despite not being members of the EU, and actually have higher rates of EU immigration per head than the UK.

Also, leaving the EU and ending free movement would not affect the numbers of asylum seekers, as the rights of asylum seekers are not related to the EU in any way. These rights stem from the Geneva Convention and the ashes of World War Two.

At the moment the UK border is actually at Calais and UK authorities have the right to check passports there. If the UK left the EU, then that border would have to move from Calais to Dover. The French have made it clear that they would no longer allow us to maintain our border on their soil.

None of the Leave campaigns has of yet offered an alternative vision of the future if we exit the EU. There are 3 million jobs in the UK which are currently linked to trade with the rest of the EU at risk. This would also mean that the UK would not benefit from the 800,000 new jobs and £60bn that ongoing membership of the single market could bring to the UK economy. We need to ensure that EU membership promotes good jobs.

European legislation is far from perfect, and there remains much to be done in terms of securing greater protections for workers. However it is by working together and establishing common principles that we have the greatest chance of improving the lives of our most vulnerable citizens. Labour has campaigned hard to close loopholes in European rules which allow employment agencies to routinely pay agency workers far less than permanent staff doing the same job in order to drive down costs.

But make no mistake, repatriating powers back to Britain is not the antidote to these problems: it will put the UK on an unequal footing against our European neighbours, leading us nowhere but down the path to social dumping and the undercutting of wages.

Migrants from other EU countries also contribute by working for our public services, as research from the House of Commons Library shows that 14,789 EU migrants are nurses, midwifes and health visitors. EU migrants pay £1.34 in taxes for every £1 they receive in state assistance.

51,700 people from the EU currently live in the North East, leading productive lives and contributing to our economy. They do not deserve to be scapegoated by the Out campaigns, especially as many of them are the doctors and nurses who help keep us all healthy.

There are 1.26 million people from the UK living in other EU countries, about 0.3% of the EU's total population.

It is too great a risk to our country to consider leaving the European Union, especially as those who wish to leave are unable or perhaps unwilling to commit to an explanation of the likely consequences of our exit.

Leaving the EU will not only endanger our economy but will also endanger our borders.