By Bridget Phillipson MP
This time next week, we will be going to the polls and deciding whether our country remains a part of the European Union. If voters don't like the government, they can kick them out every five years. In this referendum, there will be no second chances. I will respect the result, but like Jeremy Corbyn and almost all Labour MPs and trade union leaders, I will be voting to Remain.
Our area has the most to lose from leaving the EU. We are the only region to export more than we import and over 100,000 jobs are linked to our trade with Europe. A vote to Leave would put at risk jobs, livelihoods and families' incomes. We cannot afford to take that chance.
I want a future for my children where Britain is a proud, confident and outward looking country. I also know that we need to deal properly with the stresses to our community that come from being open to the world. We are a great nation and can be greater still, but we are stronger and safer inside the European Union. If we walk away, we will lose influence and undermine the life chances of the next generation.
One last word for those who are still in two minds. Leaving the European Union is forever. If Britain leaves there is no going back. Those hard-won rights and jobs can't be had back if we change our minds in a few months time. It's perhaps the biggest choice about the future of our country we'll ever make. Europe's not perfect, but the right choice is to Remain.
This column was originally published in the Sunderland Echo on Thursday 16th June 2016.