As a Manchester MP and a Mancunian, I come from a diverse and proudly international city.
In the referendum on membership of the EU, Manchester voted to Remain by 121,823 votes (60.4%) to 79,991 votes (39.6%). I campaigned hard for a remain vote, and it’s bitterly disappointing that the UK as a whole voted to leave the European Union.
Hundreds of people have already contacted me about the call for a second referendum and over 4 million people have signed a national petition, which means it will be considered for a Parliamentary debate. I look forward to this debate and the opportunity to highlight the implications of this referendum for the country and for our communities.
We faced a Leave campaign that was fuelled by fear and lies about our NHS, levels of immigration and access to the single market. These claims are now being exposed as Nigel Farage and Ian Duncan-Smith U-turn on the promise to give £350 million extra funding to the NHS and the Leave campaign admits that leaving the EU may not reduce levels of immigration.
I’m concerned about the impact that these lies and the Leave side’s poisonous campaign will have on our society. I’m horrified to hear of attacks on immigrants in the past few days and following the disgraceful racist incidents we have seen in recent days, we should be clearer than ever that people from all backgrounds are welcome in our city.
We now need to be focused on securing the best future for the UK.
In the light of the economic uncertainty cause by the vote, these are going to be difficult times for Manchester but our priorities must be to stabilise the local economy, ensure jobs are protected, and avoid further cuts to our public services. We must build city-city and region-region links in other EU countries to ensure that Manchester’s European links are maintained.
We must reflect on the issues that were raised in this campaign such as low wages, the lack of social housing, insecure jobs and inadequate public services.
This result must galvanise us to provide a strong opposition to this Government and ensure that Manchester’s voice is heard in the negotiations.
I still strongly believe that our future would be best served by remaining in the EU, and while we must accept the result of this referendum, I will look carefully at any options that are available to undo the damage caused by the vote to leave.