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Pro-EU campaigner Phil Wilson MP spoke to IBTimes UK ahead of the historic referendumGetty

The free movement of people across the EU should be defended but Brussels should not turn its back on the concerns people have over immigration, according to the co-chair of Labour's pro-Europe campaign.

"We need to look at the EU structure so it takes into consideration the impact of immigration on local communities and education systems so that those problems are compensated for on a European level," Phil Wilson told IBTimes UK. "There are issues that have been raised over the last few years that need to be resolved."

The Sedgefield MP, who took over the north east seat from Tony Blair in 2007, has seen anti-immigration and eurosceptic sentiment grow first-hand in his constituency.

Ukip only won 3.7% of the vote in Sedgefield in 2010 but five years later, Nigel Farage's party secured 16.6% and beat the Liberal Democrats to come third.

However, Wilson remains pro-EU and has helped recruit around 100 MPs to the Labour Yes group. The organisation will argue to remain in the 28-member bloc in the run-up the UK's historic referendum on its membership of the EU.

There is currently no date set for the vote, although David Cameron has promised to hold the referendum before the end of 2017 and reports have suggested the vote could come as early as April 2016. Meanwhile, a source close to the Labour Yes group predicted campaigning will start proper around February next year.

Corbyn's European commitment

Phil Wilson and Tony Blair
Phil Wilson greets Tony Blair in SedgefieldGetty

The organisation will be headed by Labour's well respected former home secretary Alan Johnson and Wilson said he welcomed Jeremy Corbyn's recent commitment to keep the UK in the EU after the new opposition leader made a number of critical soundings about Brussels, particularly over the Greek debt crisis.

However, the veteran parliamentarian has since reappointed pro-EU Hilary Benn as shadow foreign secretary and Pat McFadden as Europe spokesman, another indication that Corbyn is bound to the "remain" position.

"Everybody wants to see the EU reformed, but you can't be part of the reform if you're not part of the EU. The mainstream view of the Labour Party is that we remain part of the EU," Wilson added.

The 56-year-old argued it was important for the UK to remain inside the EU because membership of the organisation promotes growth in the economy and "solid" trade agreements outside of the continent, including China, the US and India.

The MP also pointed to a new Hitachi train factory in Newton Aycliffe, near Sedgefield, as proof of the EU's economic draw. "Being part of the EU is attracting major businesses to the north east of England. Look at the Hitachi factory, which will be manufacturing the next generation of Intercity trains," Wilson said.

A very slim majority of voters in the UK seem to agree with Wilson. The latest opinion poll from ICM, which surveyed more than 2,000 people between 11 and 13 September, found 43% of voters would choose to breakaway from Brussels and 40% of people would want to leave the EU.