EU Referendum: Why We Need Optimism Right Now

To all those who voted Remain who are despondent this morning, don’t be… it’s easy to be pessimistic about the result, but what we need now is optimism on all sides about the future of the UK.

Because in optimism lies the ability to find opportunity and new ways of meeting the challenges of our globally connected world.

Now this may seem a little surprising considering I supported Remain. Well, now everyone has fought for what they thought was right, it’s academic. It’s up to us as country to look at this situation and use this opportunity to rise from this stronger.

It’s both exciting and frightening. But now we wake up to this situation we have to take it as seen and that means embracing and forging a path we want to see.

This isn’t a vote for a vision of Britain that Farage has set out.

People feel disaffected right across the UK. And when you feel disenfranchised – like your vote means nothing – you feel helpless. After every election, MPs repeat how Parliament needs to do better to engage disenfranchised voters… but nothing much happens. Now it has to happen.

The next battle is between becoming an inward-looking Little England vs an outward-looking Britain of the future. That’s the next fight.

However, there are several things that need to happen immediately:

1) Calming the markets by bringing stability to the political process in the coming months. This is about reassurance and heading off the possibility of another recession. We don’t need to talk ourselves into a negative spiral.

2) Start the process of focusing on how to keep Scotland in the Union. Much of this will come down to whether in the years ahead we genuinely are working towards being an outward-looking, welcoming, forward-thinking nation that rewards opportunity and important rights are protected.

3) Rapidly come up with a solution of what to do with Northern Ireland. The last thing needed is a return of a physical border with North-South and Sinn Fein already discussing a referendum on a united Ireland.

4) Working on the right team to get the terms of negotiation for our departure right. A cross-party team would be preferable with politicians who have significant negotiating experience but who can also reflect the wish of the population.

5) Assure EU nationals in this country exactly what their status is and demonstrate how much we value what they do. I hope we give amnesty to all the working EU nationals in the UK in exchange for the right for UK citizens currently living in the EU.

6) Commit to supporting the EU project in other ways – most importantly showing unity against those things that threaten peace in Europe. Peace and stability in Europe brings prosperity and stability to all of us.

I do think this went beyond just the immigration arguments that the more extreme elements of the Leave campaign were pushing. There has been a palpable sense of disconnect between the political class and the voter, on both sides of the political spectrum.

(Labour, in particular, need to address the issue of UKIP attracting voters in key areas where they are traditionally strong.)

So it was a surprising result (for pundits) that brings with it lots of uncertainty and a lot of problem that need to be solved… but also an opportunity.

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