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The EU referendum: what now?

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15 July 2016
EU Flag Two days before the EU referendum, I was stood outside a primary school in Catford talking to parents about how they planned to vote. Many wanted to remain, but not all.

"I don't know ... I think I might vote leave" one man said, "everything is on the slide, discipline in schools, this area, jobs ..."

It struck me then that when people went into the polling station on 23 June they weren't just answering the question on the ballot paper, they were also answering a thousand other questions in their own minds. 

Discipline in our schools has nothing to do with our membership of the EU but for many people dissatisfied with something in their life, the referendum gave them hope that things could change. 

Since the referendum I have received hundreds of emails asking me to vote against Brexit and for a second referendum. Whilst I would love to re-write the history of the last few weeks, it's not that simple. 

David Cameron's promise to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands a year when he knew he couldn't, and then to hold a referendum on our membership of the EU was, with hindsight, a car crash waiting to happen.

So, what now?

Those of us who believe that our prosperity depends on close trading links with Europe, must do all that we can to ensure our economic interests are protected going forward. 

Those of us who celebrate our diversity, and recognise that we have an ageing population and that someone will need to be paying taxes in 30 years’ time to be paying our pensions, must never shy away from making the case for fair immigration, which ensures people who come here to work are welcomed and respected. 

And those of us who want to live in a tolerant, open, innovative and energised country must do all that we can to make the future better for the next generation. 

I wish I could say "it will all be fine, we can find a way to reverse the result" but at the moment, I am not sure I can. 

We must expose the lies of those that campaigned for a Leave Vote and hold them to account, we must maintain grown-up dialogue with other European Governments, and we must do all that we can to bring our country together and find a way forward that the majority can agree on. 

My constituents have my word that I will be doing my very best to achieve that, and I want my party, the Labour Party, to get its own house in order so that we can lead this process.

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