By Lord Navnit Dholakia
Deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats
The outcome of the EU referendum has serious implications on our economy. The voting pattern has also divided the UK across regions, age and ethnicity.
The xenophobic reactions of Brexit campaigners have seriously damaged our delicate race and community relations. Issues like the benefit of trade, jobs, investment and prices were put on the back burner. Global terrorism, cross-border crime and matters of human rights hardly featured in campaigns either.
Throughout my political career, I have been a keen supporter of the Remain ethos. I have never wavered from my belief of a stronger Europe and our role within the European Union (EU). In economically prosperous countries globalisation is an everyday reality. We ignore the market of over 300 million people at our peril.
No one owes us a living. We are all interdependent on each other. Whatever our future holds, unity will always be the best way forward.
The EU stands for many things – peace, equality, safety and opportunity, yet it will no longer play a part in Britain’s future. With this vote, the very fabric of our country has changed. UKIP leader Nigel Farage’s vision for Britain has won this vote, but the Liberal Democrats will keep fighting against his dangerous and divisive world view.
We will fight for an open, optimistic, hopeful, diverse and tolerant Britain, a cause that is needed more than ever. I write this as shocking news is coming in that reported hate crimes have increased by 57 per cent since last Friday’s (24) result. We must not let this vote allow our country to turn to division, isolation and decline.
Europe and internationalism have always been in the Liberal Democrat’s DNA, just as isolationism and nationalism have been in UKIP’s.
At the next election – which could come soon after a Conservative leadership election later this year – we will be the only party saying that if we are given a mandate, we will keep fighting for
Europe and an outward-looking future.
We will keep fighting for a future of cooperation, a future of openness with our neighbours.
Now is not the time to start rebuilding the walls that divided us for so long.
Too often the EU has been used as a distraction from failures in government. The pressures on our schools, our hospitals and GP surgeries, plus the strain on our infrastructure are problems made in Westminster, in our own Parliament, by British politicians.
The insecurities from zero-hours contracts, the housing crisis, the desertion of the industrial north, the expenses scandals and the banking crisis, these are all problems made in Westminster. No wonder people feel ignored and neglected by politics. They have seen their living standards falling further and further behind the rest of society. They are angry. They are right to feel angry and I share that anger. But Nigel Farage is not the answer.
Throughout the referendum campaign the Liberal Democrats ran a positive, energetic, and hopeful campaign. We made sure that our efforts had a true Lib Dem stamp on them – we were unabashedly liberal, hopeful, and international. While other parties have collapsed following this decision, we remain united in our fight to make the positive case for Europe.
There is a movement growing, as people are unhappy with the outcome of the referendum, and even those who supported leaving are feeling lied to. As the Brexit camp renounce their
promises on the NHS and immigration, it is now clear the British people have been sold a lie.
We have seen thousands join our party, over one a minute, since the result came through.
People have flocked to our positive message and our unity. This is an outcome I welcome.