Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson: After hard work, best is yet to come

Stewart Jackson MP's Westminster Life column in the Peterborough Telegraph -
Stewart Jackson MP's Westminster Life column in the Peterborough Telegraph -
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This week at Westminster has been like the worst, weirdest, psychedelic, political soap opera or psychodrama I’ve ever seen. In 11 years in Parliament, I’ve never experienced anything like it.

The resignation of the Prime Minister on Friday, the beginning of the Conservative leadership battle, market and currency instability, scaremongering and fear mongering in the wake of Brexit by the BBC and others and the Labour Party imploding - fear and loathing and conspiracy and subterfuge stalks every corridor.

For all that, Peterborough people last week ignored the naysayers and those who chose to talk down the UK, threaten and bully the voters and present a cynical and defeatist vision of our future outside the European Union - delivering an emphatic 61% Leave vote. The future is ours to shape as a free, sovereign globally-focused Parliamentary democracy.

The people have spoken and there is no question of a second referendum or an Establishment “fiddle” to cheat the people out of their choice.

But isn’t the real story of the EU referendum that encapsulated by the words of a man said to me in the pouring rain in Paston last Thursday evening:

“We’re not going to bottle it are we Mr Jackson?”

So many folk in our city felt so forgotten and alienated from the wealth and power and influence in Brussels and London that they believed that they had nothing to lose by voting Leave. For them, however much they tried in good faith, globalisation meant only defeat and unfairness for them and their kids and our new Prime Minister must address these issues urgently: that means stopping unrestricted immigration and boosting social justice as absolute priorities.

We must address this cry from their heart.

For all that, I am not triumphant, even though I have fought an often lonely campaign over many years to deliver this result - at a cost to any political career I may have had - and I wept at the result.

For the avoidance of doubt, I respect the many decent, patriotic and honourable people in Peterborough and across the UK who care about their country but felt on balance that the status quo was a safer place so voted Remain. Many are in shock, are worried and some are in a grieving process: I get that.

We do now need a period of reassurance and stability.

However, I have no truck and will not tolerate the hysterical cant of those (especially on social media) who characterise Leave voters as thick, ill informed, racist and xenophobic, who need to vote again until they get the right result.

Nor will I turn a blind eye to those (a tiny minority) who have used the Leave vote to attack or stigmatise our Eastern European neighbours who’ve chosen to come to our country to make a better life and work hard and contribute to our country and whose international treaty rights allow them to stay in the UK as long as they wish to.

In short, the UK is a fantastic country and I’m proud of its people for having the courage and foresight to take a hugely difficult decision on 23rd June.

We have all helped to shape British and European history.

Now is the time to rediscover our self confidence and self belief - for healing, fixing things, making things, making new friends across the world, sunny optimism, pragmatism and hard work to make Brexit work.

After all, the best is yet to come.