By Tomos Povey – Political Editor
Alex Yip talks exclusively to NeeHao Magazine on his time in elected office and his stance on EU referendum.
Alex Yip made headlines across the country in May last year as he was elected Birmingham City Council’s first Chinese councillor. In May 2016, he was re-elected to serve Sutton New Hall Ward.
On the EU Referendum
The British born Chinese councillor and magistrate has made no secret of his support for Britain’s continued membership of the European Union, and is an enthusiastic supporter of the Conservative’s Remain-IN campaign.
He has donated a vast amount of time campaigning for Britain to stay in the EU. Most recently he appeared at a public lecture – ‘Social Integration and EU Referendum’ – as a guest speaker to argue the importance of the British Chinese population to make their own informed choice on the issue but definitely to vote.
Alex will also be speaking alongside the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, MP, for an event organised by The Stronger In campaign at the London Chinese Community Centre, Chinatown.
With the referendum fast approaching, Alex Yip will undoubtedly be seen and heard more regularly to voice his views.
Why are you in favour of Britain retaining its membership of the EU?
“It would be best for everyone. It is better for everyone to be in a stronger EU with a stronger Britain. The EU has proved very successful for Britain economically. Our membership enables prosperity for all. If we vote for exiting the EU, then the leave period would take around 2 years. It would be acrimonious parting. No good would come of us leaving one of the biggest markets in the world.”
What have you been doing to engage Chinese voters in the EU referendum?
“Through the British Chinese Project we are pushing people to vote. If you don’t vote you won’t be seen or heard, at the end of the day. Casting a vote at the ballot box is the most powerful way of being seen and heard. As I continue to stress, the referendum’s result will have an impact on us for many years to come.”
Should the British people vote to leave the EU, what would happen?
“No country has ever left the EU, so no-one can entirely tell us of how we would look in the event of a ‘Brexit’. Nothing is for definite.”
How does the EU referendum affect the Chinese community?
“It will inevitably effect the Chinese community, but in 2 ways: immigration and economy. Immigration has greatly helped many Chinese businesses.
As a country, we need to look to the future – we are becoming a much more integrated world – the EU is home to hundreds of millions of people. All communities are stronger when working together.”
1 year on since being elected as councillor
Reminiscing on his time in office, the councillor feels that he has made a real difference on a local level. He delivered on an array of different issues, from dealing with unacceptable levels of litter to eliminating potholes.
Some tasks have been extremely challenging, especially when attempting to comfort a bereaved or angry person. But as a past sufferer of depression, he felt he was someone who could reach out to people of all areas of society.
More recently, the former school governor of Kingsbury School and Sports College has been involved in opposing Birmingham City Council’s plans, in particular the green tax and a proposal to construct some 6,000 houses on green belt land on the edge of Sutton Coldfield. He has suggested that old buildings, like an abandoned petrol station, be used instead. Councillor Yip tirelessly signed petitions and participated in other methods to show opposition to the housing plan. It was announced this week that the proposal has been placed on hold. Alex Yip deserves some credit and responsibility for the decision.
During his time in office, the magistrate will continue his membership of Education and Vulnerable Children Overview and Scrutiny committee on Birmingham City Council.
Much of Councillor Yip’s time, too, has been dedicated to strengthening Britain’s much-unrepresented Chinese communities. The British Chinese Project made him its Vice Chairman in October 2011. The non-partisan organisation aims to promote the profiles of Chinese people – from tackling racism and prejudice to aiding community groups. In addition to the British Chinese Project, Councillor Yip has a footing as secretary of the Confederation of Chinese Business UK – a trust which seeks collaboration between UK and Chinese businesses – and school governor of Overseas Chinese Association School.