Immigration and keeping jobs in Britain are two of the key arguments being debated by the main political parties ahead of the European elections this month.
Voters will be going to the polls on 22nd May to decide who they want to represent the East Midlands constituency in Brussels.
The East Midlands returns five MEPs and in 2009 these were two Conservative MEPs, one Labour, one Liberal Democrat and one UKIP.
However Nigel Farage’s UKIP party has mounted a strong challenge since then and is hoping to win an overall victory across the country, causing a huge political upset to the traditional political big three.
UKIP wants the UK to pull out of the European Union so it can take back control of immigration and cut spending on the EU, which it says equates to £55m of taxpayers’ money a day.
East Midlands UKIP campaign manager Paul Oakden said: “We’re the only party offering something different. A genuine party with Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.
“UKIP are doing well by attracting former Labour voters. There is a perception we only take votes from the Conservatives but it’s not true. These elections are so important. No European elections have ever mattered as much as these.”
Current Conservative MEP Emma McClarkin said that the Tories are the only party who can deliver ‘real change’ in Europe.
They are proposing to take back control of justice and home affairs from the European courts and tighten border controls and benefit tourism. They also promise a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU in 2017.
“Our message is very, very clear. If you want change in Europe, you have to vote for the Conservatives,” she said.
“The only way that any change in Europe will happen is if people come out and vote Conservative.”
The Labour Party is concentrating its manifesto on the creation of jobs and economic growth, including restraint and reform of the European Union’s budget.
MEP Glenis Wilmott is urging people to cast their votes in an election that has seen low turnout in recent years.
“I hope people will turn out. It’s a really important election and people often don’t know the importance of it,” she said.
“We have over 340,000 jobs in the East Midlands dependent on our trade with Europe so it’s really important when we are having this cost of living crisis that we are doing something about jobs and growth and the pound in our pocket and that’s what Labour MEPs do.”
The Liberal Democrats, one of the most pro-EU parties, also believe being part of the EU is the best way to create jobs and increase trade.
Bill Newton-Dunn, an MEP for over 30 years, is strongly in favour of the opportunities that being part of the EU brings for young people to work and study abroad and says over 3m jobs in the UK depend on Britain’s membership of the EU.
“The UK must remain part of the EU otherwise it will be slow, national suicide as we lose influence and friends and foreign investment to create new jobs,” he said.
The other parties with candidates standing in the East Midlands are the Green Party, An Independence From Europe party, the British National Party, the English Democrats and The Harmony Party.