EU Referendum: 'I am proud to be both British and European, I wish more of our fellow citizens had felt that too' says MEP

'Politics are based on the principle of consent and we have to accept that the popular will is for Britain to leave the European Union, MEP for the East of England and Vote Remain campaigner Richard Howitt said this morning.

Friday, 24th June 2016, 1:43 pm
Updated Friday, 24th June 2016, 2:48 pm
Richard Howitt

“As an elected representative and on behalf of the Labour Party, I respect the result and must commit to its outcome. I am proud of the way Labour fought the Referendum campaign. United as a party, I believe we told the truth and regret the outcome.

“I do not believe Britain’s independence or democracy were ever jeopardised. I am concerned that the economic consequences of leaving the EU will prove to be fact not fear.

“In Westminster, Labour must and will give the greatest priority to defending jobs and services for working people, from the shocks which will follow.

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“I worry about the divisive nature of the debate and for the continuing loss of tolerance, respect and openness in our democracy. It is not how I choose to practice my own politics. It is why I wanted our country to continue to have an open and inclusive politics in relation to our neighbours in Europe.

“I was elected on public trust to serve the interests of my constituents in the East of England and to represent our country. I pledge to continue to uphold those responsibilities for as long as I remain as your Member of the European Parliament.

“Labour will play our own part to seek to heal the divisions created during the referendum campaign.

“In Europe, Labour must play our own role in the negotiations to secure the best future relationships for our country.

“It has been an immense privilege to serve you and I am deeply proud of the work I have always sought to undertake to the very best of my efforts - both in the region and in the European Parliament.

“I greatly value the support and friendship I have been given from Labour colleagues, members and supporters across the East of England and from very many organisations and individuals across the wider electorate. That support and friendship has come too from my fellow Labour Euro MPs and from our colleagues from the other European countries.

“However the immediate future sees my own work and responsibilities continue, and other personal considerations are for the future. I always said that the EU Referendum was far more important than any one political party or politician.

“On that too, we told the truth.

“However, I do not shed a tear at the resignation of David Cameron, who was the author of his own downfall, right from the time he made promises to his own Eurosceptic backbench MPs to secure election as the leader of his party.

“It proved impossible to overcome the years of acceding to Euroscepticism in British domestic politics, in the few short weeks of a referendum campaign.

“I fear that our country will suffer deeply because of the internal divisions of the Conservative Party. Today I prefer to emphasize the positive convictions in my own and our Labour Party’s politics. We remain firmly internationalist, anti-racist and committed to the pursuit of social justice.

“We were not able to fully realise those values in campaigning for Britain to remain in the European Union.

“But these are values in which we will always believe and for which I and we will always campaign.

“Thank-you to everyone with whom I have campaigned in the past few weeks and thank-you to everyone who voted for Britain to remain in the European Union.

“I am proud to be both British and European.

“I wish more of our fellow citizens had felt that too.”