NEWS AND COMMENT FROM CHRIS LESLIE MP – Sunday 26th June 2016
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With Britain now set to leave the European Union, there are now many important decisions facing our country, the Government and Parliament. I am obviously disappointed at the result but, given the decision by the British people, we must now accept the outcome and move forward to ensure that our economy is stabilised and that we secure the best possible negotiated exit.
There are many lessons for legislators and Ministers to learn from the referendum result and in today’s ‘MP Update’ I will be touching on some but not all of these. For me it is clear that the majority of the people want a UK Parliament that stands up for the interests of the majority, that they are clear where the buck stops, and that British interests are at the heart of everything we do.
For now, I am focusing on the immediate consequences of this decision for Nottingham and my constituents in Nottingham East, whether in businesses that export, the impact on local consumers and of course the resources we need for decent local services.
In Nottingham we had a turnout of 62% – well below the national average – with ‘Leave’ only slightly in the majority by 50.8% to 49.2%.
There are a number of very significant consequences now flowing from the referendum and they include the following:
- Parliament reconvenes tomorrow to consider the next steps for Britain outside the EU. I believe we need to take a careful and step-by-step approach to the exit negotiations. I am prepared to support measures that maximise our continued cooperation and cordial relations with all European countries; to continue working in partnership with other countries on trade, market access, environmental and regulatory questions. I also believe Britain should aim to retain access to the European single market for the good of our economy.
- I will be paying particular attention to the stabilisation of our economy, banking and public finances over the coming months. The stability of the financial markets, sterling and the stock exchange may feel removed from households in Nottingham but it is important we support any action to protect the value of assets, pensions, savings and secure price stability. It is typically those on the lowest incomes who suffer if we see inflation rise unduly or firms face problems leading to unemployment. I will be talking with Ministers and others across the parties about measures that may be required. There may be taxation and public spending implications too and I will of course want to do what I can to protect basic public services in our area.
- I am very concerned about the move to have a second referendum in Scotland for their potential independence from the UK. I believe this would be deeply regrettable although I think this may well have been predictable. I am concerned at the prospect of anything that might impede the unity of Scotland with England and although I understand the issues arising because of the different vote in Scotland from the rest of the UK, this is a situation facing other regions too including London and I don’t believe cessation is the answer. There are also issues facing the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland which I will be watching closely.
- David Cameron’s imminent departure as Prime Minister means there is a likelihood of an earlier general election with a new Tory leader looking to go to the country for a fresh mandate far sooner than 2020. This also means that as Labour MPs we must ensure we have a strong and focused Opposition able to be in contention in that election. Today Hilary Benn was sacked as Shadow Foreign Secretary because he could not express confidence in Jeremy Corbyn as Labour’s leader – and my local colleagues Lilian Greenwood (MP for Nottingham South) and Vernon Coaker (MP for Gedling) have also resigned for this reason. I support Lilian and Vernon in their decision which is borne of a desire to ensure we build a Labour leadership capable of reaching out to the whole of the country and addressing the wider concerns and challenges facing the Britain following the referendum result.
These are serious times but I will do my best to represent the interests of Nottingham East in Parliament on these decisions. As ever, please do let me know any thoughts or suggestions that arise, although you will have to bear with me if I am slightly slower in responding given how busy this period will now be.