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With the Right Leadership, Britain Can Continue to Be Great

24/06/2016 15:33 | Updated 24 June 2016

This morning I arose to a new nation, treading an uncertain path towards an unsure future. I am saddened, heartbroken and disappointed by the news that the United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union. This is the most consequential decision our nation has made in modern times, sending the financial markets into turmoil and the future of the British union into doubt. This referendum result has exposed deep-seated division across our nation. However, regardless of my own opinion, the British public have spoken and the Government must now carry out the will of the people.

The message sent by the electorate is loud and clear: the UK's future is no longer within the EU. The message came loudest from Labour's heartlands; from Salford to Swindon, the Remain campaign's slogans fell on deaf ears. This was a revolt like no other. Experts, the perceived elite - be they economists, statisticians, elder statesmen or leaders of other nations - were all rejected. Communities who felt that their political voices were diminished, rejected Westminster's call to Europe.

Our nation is now deeply divided into one of two halves, separated by an ocean of difference. Metropolitan communities comfortable with multiculturalism are set against post-industrial towns and cities scarred by the impact of globalisation and the decline of heavy industries.

The Labour Party's future is now in doubt: 44% of Labour supporters voted to leave, while conversely 94% of Labour MP's supported remain. As Labour supporters, we must accept that we did not state the progressive, internationalist case convincingly enough to fellow members of the Labour family. Nor did we make the case, that a vote for out wasn't an objection to austerity and the destruction of public services they rely on. The responsibility for this rests with the Leadership.

A schism is developing between political parties on the left and their core vote; the centre-left across Europe is in decline. Labour now needs to rediscover its fundamental values in order to re-connect with the party's base. This is no time for self-righteousness, as Andrew Harrop, General-Secretary of the Fabian Society, stated this morning: "the Labour Party does not have a God Given right to exist" and we must adapt to change if our movement is to survive.

The referendum result was borne from discontent with the Conservative Party, long-term disenfranchisement at our society's economic settlement and the lacklustre arguments for why the EU was good for workers. From Labour's side: It is clear that our Leader lacked decisiveness and was not visible enough during the campaign. Jeremy's past history of Euroscepticism gave a mixed message, causing Labour to lack a uniform voice. Furthermore, his silence allowed the narrative to build amongst our supporters that voting for Brexit was a kick in the teeth to the Tories. As a result, many in the Labour Party feel that Jeremy Corbyn should also be considering his position today.

For progressives across our nation, the future appears bleak - the future of our rights at work, human rights and the National Health Service which we have fought so hard for are all now in doubt. There is no time for sulking, we must not let the politics of hate, fear and division dominate, let us rise up to the challenge and continue the fight for our values. With the right leadership, Britain can continue to be great.

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