Our Fight for an Open, Optimistic, Hopeful, Diverse and Tolerant Britain Is Needed Now More Than Ever

24/06/2016 16:06 | Updated 24 June 2016
Christopher Furlong via Getty Images

I am devastated and I am angry. Today we woke to a deeply divided country. Nigel Farage's vision for Britain has won this vote, but it is not a vision I accept.

An institution that we built, that delivered peace, that promoted equality, kept us safe and opened the doors of opportunity, will no longer play part of Britain's future. With this vote, the very fabric of our country has changed. The whole fabric of Europe has been changed.

Our fight for an open, optimistic, hopeful, diverse and tolerant Britain is needed now more than ever. Together we will continue to make the case for Britain's future with Europe, a future millions of people have voted for.

The Liberal Democrats will continue to stand and fight for a better kind of Britain than the one painted by the leave campaign. Hope and optimism, openness and tolerance, cooperation and togetherness can succeed. We must not let this vote allow our country to turn to division, isolation and decline.

What stands out to me more than anything, is the great injustice to future generations. Younger voters voted to remain at a staggering margin - almost three-quarters wanting to stay in. Their future has been taken away by older generations. What a tragedy that older voters, the people who have been able to benefit from European integration, have removed the opportunity for those coming behind them.

Too often the European Union has been used as a distraction from failures in government. The pressures on our schools, the pressures on our hospitals and GP surgeries, the pressures 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.

For the last few weeks I have stood alongside progressives, in Labour, Greens, SNP even Conservatives. It felt so much like there was more that united us than divided us.

We must not allow this unity to fade away.

When other parties are divided and wounded, I will reach out. I am proud of the campaign that my party has run, it was positive, energetic and hopeful. That's the sort of party we are, and that is my offer to the country. It is my offer to all people who share our values.

I can offer you a home for a new modern breed of politics - liberal, hopeful, international, rational - driven by real British values.

Positive about Europe, furious with those who led us to this disaster. Determined that we will not walk away from this fight.

Today I made the case for unity in the face of division, there are 16 million of us saying that this fight is not over. If you are as angry and heartbroken as I am, I need you to join us today.

Tim Farron is the leader of the Lib Dems and MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale

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