Opposing sides emerge for In/Out EU debate

Mayor of London Boris Johnson with Prime Minister David Cameron, who has issued a last-ditch appeal to Mr Johnson not to join the campaign for Britain to leave the European Union
Mayor of London Boris Johnson with Prime Minister David Cameron, who has issued a last-ditch appeal to Mr Johnson not to join the campaign for Britain to leave the European Union
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The battle lines are drawn ahead of D-day for the UK’s membership of the EU and Wigan’s political figures have already nailed their colours to the mast.

Voting booths across the borough will be open on June 23 with early opinion polls suggesting the result could be too close to call.

Borough MPs appear to be split down party lines with Labour representatives Yvonne Fovargue and Andy Burnham declaring earlier this year they would be firmly in the In camp.

The Evening Post also understands that Wigan MP Lisa Nandy is also an In supporter.

In contrast, Bolton West MP Chris Green - whose constituency covers Atherton - has declared he plans to vote against his party leader and will be supporting the Out campaign.

Mr Green, who declared his intentions this weekend, said he remains “unconvinced” by the EU offer to the British people as a result of David Cameron’s negotiations as it does not “go anywhere near as far as it should.”

Adding: “I have always said that it is for the EU to convince us, the British people, to stay and I think they have tried to get away with doing as little as possible which shows that they lack any commitment to reform.”

He plans to run his own mock referendum with constituents to canvass opinion and will announce the results next month.

The borough’s Ukip branch is expected to be at the centre of local Brexit campaigning and party leader Nigel Farage labelled Mr Cameron’s reform efforts as “pathetic”.

Wigan chairman Mark Bradley said: “It has always been my firm belief that those who legislate over us should do so by the consent of the people and they should be elected to do so.

“If the people are unhappy with the way that they are being governed then the right should exist to remove the government. EU leaders are selected not elected.

“We are the world’s fifth largest economy. We are not a small weak and powerless nation who will be isolated if we leave the failing EU.”

Ms Fovargue, MP for Makerfield, has previously stated a vote to stay in the EU will “stand up for rights in the workplace.”

Adding: “The UK is stronger negotiating deals with countries like China and the USA as part of the EU group of 28 nations than we would be on our own.”

Shadow home secretary and Leigh MP Andy Burnham said the referendum “is the most important vote you will cast in your life.

Adding a vote to stay in will be good for jobs and security with a Brexit triggering the break-up of Great Britain.

A Wigan Today social media poll yesterday suggested the vote in the borough would be a close run thing with a split 49/51 per cent in favour of a Brexit.

Glenn Daly posted: “Out so we can be an independent country again. June 23 is the day Britain gets its independence back and stand strong on our own two feet.”

Tony Halsall said: “In. We have much in common with the average man on the street in France, Germany and Holland and together we can all achieve more. Why would we want to be on the outside looking in when as EU members we have influence over EU policy and direction?