The country is now crying out for strong leadership

As Ilford North’s Labour campaign teams hit the streets of Aldborough this Thursday for the evening knock up, the rain poured into canvassers’ eyes and red Stronger IN ponchos stuck to sodden skin.  

With the polls on a knife-edge, this wasn’t the weather we wanted to encourage the capital’s voters to the polling stations in Britain’s most pro-Remain region.

In the end it didn’t matter. Twelve hours later, Redbridge voted to Remain by 69,000 votes to 59,000, but London’s results were not enough to avoid a national result that has already sent financial markets tumbling, provoked a new Scottish independence referendum and that has unnerved constituents of mine who tell me they no longer feel welcome in our international city. 

I voted Remain with head and heart, but whilst I am disappointed at the result and am worried about the consequences for Britain, I am clear that MPs must respect the voters’ choice.

Parliament’s overriding priority now must be to make the outcome work for our country, for London and for people in communities like Ilford. 

That requires clear leadership and representatives collaborating across the party political divide for the good of the country, avoiding reckless one-upmanship.  Debate will continue to be emotive but cool heads are required, not least when considering dry and technical procedures such as the invocation of Article 50, which triggers the process to negotiate our exit from the EU.

On the Treasury Select Committee, we advised that UK government clarity about the relationship we want with the EU and a settled negotiating position is vital first, trumping immediate activation regardless of the political urgency that figures in Brussels or London might now demand.

Getting the big questions and the details right now is essential to meet the challenges that face our country as we chart a new course in the world – and to ensure that London’s diverse population continues to feel welcome in our country. As our constituents consider the impact of Brexit on their jobs, savings, mortgages and pensions we owe it to them to show strong leadership. The country is crying out for it. 

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