‘We have a massive part to play’: Lib Dem leader Farron says Manchester has ‘crucial’ role in EU Referendum vote

Liberal Democrats leader Tim Farron has told MM that Manchester has a huge part to play in the European Union, saying the city’s boundaries go ‘beyond our United Kingdom’.

The MP for Westmorland & Lonsdale spoke about the importance of the North’s voice in the EU referendum, alongside Lib Dem Councillor and former Withington MP John Leech.

Mr Farron, 46, claimed it would be mutually beneficial for Manchester and the EU if Remain was successful.

“The North has a massive part to play in this campaign,” he said.

“The reality is that 52% of the North West’s exports are to the European Union. That a third of a million jobs just in the North West alone depend on trade with the European Union.

“The industrial revolution began here, in this region, across the world.

“Creatively, musically, artistically, this is absolutely the crucible of so much talent and creativity across the world. We are proud of who we are, and what we’ve created. We want a market to export it to, both financially and culturally.

“But we’re also huge beneficiaries of the diversity, the multiculturalism, all the things we learn from other people. This is absolutely symbiotic.

“This is a city whose boundaries are beyond our United Kingdom.”

Coinciding with the 33rd anniversary of the late Charles Kennedy first being elected to Parliament at the 1983 general election, the event took a nostalgic turn as Mr Farron recalled his frequent visits to the place he considers his ‘capital city’.

“I used to come down here as a teenager, to the big city, to Affleck’s Palace and the Hacienda.

“People would be wearing t-shirts that said ‘born in the North, die in the North’. I’ve achieved one of those things so far. But it’s what happens in the middle that matters.

“That’s why I’m here to declare that the north of England is better off In, and why this campaign and the message about the referendum needs to concentrate even more on what matters to the north of England, and less about an old school scrap between two old Etonian Tory schoolboys.” 

Another thing Mr Farron believed mattered to the North West was the youth voice.

He insisted that it is young people who would feel the repercussions of a Brexit most keenly, saying that it is ‘their future’ that the vote will decide.

But Matthew Reisler, a 19-year-old Lib Dem supporter, told MM that the party still struggle to connect with young people – and students especially – despite sharing the same views on the Referendum.

“At the moment, the Lib Dems don’t have a great standing with students, because of the tuition fees,” said the University of Manchester student.

“Labour and Jeremy Corbyn are popular with students, Lib Dems aren’t really. But we are building our reputation back slowly.

“A lot of us [students] are going to vote In. It’s our future and we do need to realise that. Tim’s message was about young people really getting involved.

“I feel like they will. We’ll be a big block of influence.”

Image courtesy of the Liberal Democrat Party, with thanks

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