Let’s ditch labels and unite Peterborough

Like me, I am guessing most of you have become fed up with the word ‘Brexit’. It has dominated politics and the news for years. My four year-old daughter even thought the news was called ‘Brexit’ after hearing the word so much, writes Peterborough MP Paul Bristow.

Saturday, 8th February 2020, 6:16 am
Image ?No10 Crown Copyright . 24/01/2020. London, United Kingdom. The Prime Minister Boris Johnson signing the official European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020, inside No10 Downing Street. Picture by Andrew Parsons / No10 Downing Street / Crown Copyright PPP-200130-161530003

But it’s done. Last Friday was a historic day, when the UK finally left the European Union. Democracy prevailed. Peterborough’s vote to Leave in 2016 has finally been honoured.

I am proud to have done what people in this city voted for me to do. The thing that our last two Labour MPs refused to do, time after time in Westminster. As Peterborough’s MP, I voted to get Brexit done.

So I allowed myself a glass of something when the clock struck 11pm on Friday.

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Yet I was conscious that some of those who voted Remain feel a sense of loss and melancholy. They believe that things will be worse, or feel alienated within the wider mood.

That’s why it’s important that we bring the country back together and heal those divisions. I have my own role to play locally. I have mentioned before the need for those who lose to accept the legitimacy of the outcome, which was sadly missing within the LibDems, many in Labour and even by a handful of Conservatives.

But there is also such a thing as being a bad winner. Although I’m proud and positive about Brexit, it’s time to ditch the labels. We should stop describing each other as ‘Leavers’ or ‘Remainers’. Even Tony Blair has spoken about coming together in a positive way. We should all move on. I will try my best after this article not to use the terms any more.

We are already moving on in Peterborough. I spoke last week to the Opportunity Peterborough business breakfast, where I expected Brexit to dominate questions. But what I found were small-business owners and workers who were confident about the future and working to make Peterborough a better place.

They can do this because they know Britain has left the EU and the political instability of recent years is over. Interestingly, it seemed that our entrepreneurs and small businesses were the ones most excited about the opportunities of the UK stepping back into the world.

I particularly enjoyed meeting Laura Steele, who runs the company behind the Peterborough Small Business Awards. She is a great example of an entrepreneur, starting with a high street bridal shop and then venturing into other business opportunities. A member of her team is behind the Peterborough Biscuit event, which showcases the fantastic business community that operates within a 55-mile radius of our city.

There are hundreds more. Two young people I met last week bowled me over with their talent and ambition. You only have to look around and you will find a new generation, who have either set up businesses already or are at school wanting to know how to start.

As I keep saying, the future for our city is bright. The university is coming and the regeneration plans are underway, but our greatest asset will always be people. And their positivity is contagious, bringing us business and social success.

Image ©No10 Crown Copyright

Negativity can be contagious too. Let’s avoid that trap, come together and be positive about our shared future.