The Prime Minister pledged a Referendum on EU membership, and we now know that this will take place on June 23rd. Each one of us will have the choice to decide on our country's membership - Leave or Remain. The politicians have a role to play, but each MP only has one vote, just like each member of the public.
My decision is to vote to remain in a reformed EU. Staying in in a reformed EU will make us stronger, safer, better off. I believe that the advantages of being in the EU outweigh the frustrations that are also part of being in it.
Last Friday I attended an event for businesses of Hastings and Rye at the Hastings museum. These were entrepreneurs and owners of small local businesses, such as IT, hotels and security. Proprietors of these businesses were quick to share their views with me that we need to stay in the EU. They told me that their success depends on continued membership. Their success provides local employment, which means jobs and financial security for working people and their families. This is the core of my support for staying in the EU - jobs and security.
At Cabinet on Saturday morning, the PM set out the new terms of our EU membership and invited each of us to comment and share our views. I told him that I believe that safeguarding our country’s economic security is what is most precious. We have repaired the financial disaster that we inherited in 2010, taking the difficult decisions that have made it possible for us to deliver our long-term plan to build a stronger economy, invest in new infrastructure (like the Link Road) and put more money into the NHS. Taking us out of the EU would put that at risk. It would mean jumping into the unknown and that is not a risk we should take with our national and economic security. That is also not the kind of future we should leave for our children and grandchildren.
Now I know that this is not a view held by everyone. There will be plenty of employers who find the additional regulations of being in the EU are greater than the opportunity. They would like to take the Brexit risk. There are honestly held differences of opinion in this debate. MPs and Ministers whose views I respect take different positions to me. But having weighed it up, I have made my decision.
Constituents have written to me asking for the "facts". They want clarity on whether in or out would be better for them. That's like asking 20 different economists a question and expecting the same answer. There will be plenty of facts available but, ultimately, everyone will have to make their own judgement.
Locally, there will be debates and opportunities to hear the different views, during the next 3 months, I will make sure of that. There will be plenty of "facts" and information to challenge and absorb. And my first piece of advice is truly uncontroversial - make sure you are registered to vote. This could be the most important vote you make in your lifetime.