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'Together we must seek to rebuild bridges'

3 min read

Shadow Minister & Cambridge MP, Daniel Zeichner, writes that Britain is 'still the inclusive, open and outward-looking nation we know it to be'.

The result in Cambridge was one of the only bright spots on Thursday night. The people of Cambridge overwhelmingly - 74% of them - voted to remain members of the European Union. Cambridge is a deeply progressive city, proud of its place within Europe as a centre of scientific and academic excellence, and a keen proponent of multi-culturalism and internationalism.

We campaigned hard in Cambridge to make the positive case for EU membership, and I am delighted that once again Cambridge proved its reputation for tolerance and hope to be well-founded. The challenge for Cambridge is to ensure we secure our global position - and continue to attract the investment in our research institutions and businesses that will now regrettably be under threat.

Unfortunately the result in Cambridge was not replicated across the country as a whole. Now we have to begin the painful process of unpicking the outcome, and piecing back together our deeply divided country.

I have made clear that I don’t think leaving the EU is the right direction for our country. Britain will be a poorer, more vulnerable place, isolated and insular. The Conservatives are already making life harder for people through their ideological cuts and attacks on our public services. Outside the EU, with perhaps an ever more right-wing prime minister who threw an old friend under the bus and deliberately misled the public for personal advancement, life will get tougher still.

I firmly believe this result was about far more than Europe. The Leave campaign scapegoated the EU for a whole host of problems caused by domestic policies, irresponsibly leading voters to believe that leaving could make a real positive difference to their lives. But without the protection of the EU, those in areas which are more economically stagnant will be more at risk than ever. The pound has plummeted, the economy is unstable, workers’ rights will be at the mercy of the Tories, and the Leave campaign’s lies about funding the NHS are already rapidly unravelling. Many of those areas that voted to leave were net receivers of EU funding, the irony of which makes the result even more upsetting.

Furthermore, the reports of xenophobic and racist verbal and physical assaults in the last few days are devastating, and there is a real fear that this result has legitimised behaviour that used to exist at the far fringes of society. We desperately need to act to heal these divides – this isn’t a Britain to which we want to belong.

Together we must seek to rebuild bridges. We must show the world that Britain is still the inclusive, open and outward-looking nation we know it to be.

Daniel Zeichner MP is a Shadow Transport Minister and the Labour MP for Cambridge

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