It is obvious to us all that following the result of the EU referendum last Thursday, people have clearly sent a message that they are not content with how politicians have responded to the social and political issues that affect us. Politics is based on the principle of consent and we have to accept that the popular will is for Britain to leave the European Union.
Clearly, many communities across our country feel left behind and cut off by the political establishment both in Brussels and Westminster and the result was a rejection of the status quo by millions of people who are not sharing in the wealth of this country and for whom the economy is not working.
I am proud of the way Labour fought the referendum campaign and I believe we, unlike the leave campaign, told the truth. Within hours of the result we had key members of the leave campaign reneging on promises they had made. The commitment of £350m for the NHS was, according to Farage a “mistake” and Tory MEP Daniel Hannan admitted that Brexit may not mean cuts to immigration. Meanwhile the £725m the North East was due to receive in EU funding over the next five years now hangs in the balance and the pound slumped to its lowest level since 1985.
Chancellor George Osborne intervened early on Monday morning in an attempt to limit further turmoil, saying he would do everything he could to make Brexit work for Britain but his efforts have proved fruitless. He has warned that brutal new austerity cuts and tax rises will be necessary during a prolonged period of economic adjustment. We must now give the greatest priority to defending jobs and services for working people from the expected shocks to our financial system.
I am very clear that any instability must not be paid for by the working people of this country. There is no justification or mandate whatsoever for an emergency austerity budget. We need a clear programme of action to protect our economy.
This was a bruising hard fought campaign that has allowed an ugly rhetoric of lies and sadly in some cases xenophobia to take hold. It is of deep concern that police have reported in the wake of the result a 57% rise in racial crime. This sort of behaviour is not what we want to see on our streets and I condemn it wholeheartedly.
After this divisive campaign and close vote, the first task is to come together and heal the divisions. Our country is now fractured and things need to change.