Labour traditions of solidarity and looking after each other embodied in Wigan should influence residents to vote to remain in the EU, according to Ed Miliband.
The former party leader was on the campaign trail in the town centre yesterday with the Labour In “battle bus” flanked by Wigan MP Lisa Nandy.
The MP for Doncaster North said “the best way to bring about the change we want is by staying in the EU.”
Speaking to the Evening Post, Mr Miliband explained: “The key message for people here in Wigan is I’m not arguing to stay in the EU because I don’t want the country to change. I think the country has to change.
“My vision is different to David Cameron’s, it we want to improve rights for workers, improve our economy, make sure we tackle climate change - all the issues that matter to people - I think we’ve got to stay in.”
Asked whether he was confident the UK will remain an EU member after next month’s referendum, he said: “Nobody has cast a vote yet so therefore I don’t think you can take anything for granted in this referendum. I think it’s really important for us to make that positive case. That’s why I’m here today, people have given me a good reception.
“I think people realise there are complex issues here but I would say the principles and traditions, the traditions of the Labour movement which are very much embodied in Wigan, are around solidarity and looking after each other and that’s true within our country and also working with other countries to tackle the problems we face.”
The Labour In campaign visited Wigan as the respective EU vote campaigns clashed over the economic impact of each outcome.
Responding to whether the UK would be better off having its own control over the money handed over to Brussels each week, Mr Miliband said: “It has been proved that what the leave campaign has been saying is wrong on this.
“The other thing is on this, the investment in the North West, and the investment right across the country, is actually incredibly important.
“But also the economic benefits (created through EU membership), think about small businesses in Wigan or businesses like Heinz in Wigan, all of those issues around exports, you’ve now got the Leave campaign saying we’d be out of the single market, now, I think that is a big economic risk.
“I know from my own constituency in Doncaster that things need to improve and we don’t like the economy under the Tory government but the way we improve it is not by leaving the EU but by making sure we get a Labour government inside the EU.”
Wigan borough’s MPs are split down party lines with Ms Nandy, Yvonne Fovargue and Andy Burnham indicating they will vote to remain while Tory MP for Bolton West Chris Green has said he favours Brexit.
Ms Nandy told the Evening Post: “As Ed said, the EU has delivered decades of peace, worker’s rights, especially health and safety laws that have kept people in Wigan alive over the years.
“Let’s not put this at risk. Let’s vote to remain on June 23, not because the EU is perfect but because the only way we can cooperate and make it better is by staying in.”