Like so many Bristolians I am profoundly saddened by the result of the EU referendum.
My experience canvassing over the last few months with a team of amazing volunteers has been so positive, with so many people saying they are proud patriots who want the UK to be leading, not leaving, the European Union. And indeed in Bristol, particularly in my own constituency of Bristol West, the majority of people voted to remain.
As I canvassed, I spoke to many European Union citizens who are living here – studying and working. They were understandably concerned about the possible impact of a ‘leave’ vote for them. These are people who are paying taxes and often volunteering or contributing in other ways. Others are worried for relatives working in the EU already or about young people who want to study or work there. This referendum result only increases their sense of vulnerability.
Today I’ve been in touch with local businesses, the Mayor, unions and others in the city. We’re discussing what the impact could be on Bristol and how we’re going to work together to get the best deal for the people and city of Bristol. I’ve spoken to our Labour MEP Clare Moody and I’ll be working closely with her as we start to negotiate our exit from the EU.
I’m so worried about the people who are being left behind by the actions of this Tory government and the previous coalition government. Many people started to suffer after the global financial crisis in 2008 and the Tory-led government has kept people in low-income, unstable work, such as zero-hours contracts. The government’s economic warnings during this campaign didn’t resonate effectively, because not enough people felt they have any share in our fragile economic recovery.
I am also worried that the Tory government will be keen to do away with what they refer to as ‘red tape’ but are actually rights to keep us safe at work, or for the air to be unpolluted. We know that in Bristol we badly need those EU regulations to be more strongly implemented, not removed altogether by a government that has already tried to evade them.
And now David Cameron, the man who unleashed all this chaos on the country, has decided to walk away from the mess he started and cause more uncertainty. I’m shocked but not surprised at his willingness to duck responsibility. This makes it all the more important that we pull together to do our best to stop the chaos damaging Bristol’s economy and prospects for jobs and new businesses.
My priorities over the coming weeks and months are to support any individuals who are worried about the impact of our exit (email my office if that’s you); help keep Bristol strong and together; keep in close contact with local employers (again, email my office if you have information about the impact and want to discuss it); and represent Bristol West’s people in Parliament, making it clear to the government what the impact of this result will be and lobbying them for whatever is needed.
Thank you all for your support.