The people have spoken and those of us who wanted to remain in the European Union must accept this. I have no truck with the petition currently doing the rounds asking for the referendum to be rerun and nor should the Labour party. It would be a slap in the face to many Labour or former Labour voters who voted to Leave. But those of us who want a more progressive, more outward-looking and more internationalist country need to understand why we lost as we look to build our new future. We need to set out a clear progressive agenda for what we want out of renegotiation talks and when agreement is reached it may be appropriate for a second referendum to confirm.

As part of this new world I also want to see a kinder, less personally vicious politics. This referendum never felt like a good idea and I have never been involved in a campaign that felt as nasty. But I also know there are people who were on the other side have come to their view through reasoned thought not prejudice. They deserve respect not dehumanising, as do people involved in our opposing democratic parties. But they must also demonstrate their humanity by standing up against the blatant racism that has been unleashed following the referendum result. Its perpetrators feel legitimised and we must make it clear that both leavers and remainers believe such views are not welcome in today’s Britain.

At the count on Thursday night, I saw a ballot box from one of our most deprived areas where only around one in four of the votes were to remain. That is indicative of what has happened in disadvantaged communities across England and Wales. Throughout the western world those with fewer qualifications have seen their ability to earn undermined by both jobs going overseas and workers coming over here. They feel like they have been left behind by globalisation – and they are right. Anger about this has been expressed in different ways in different countries but there can be no doubt that the vote for Brexit is part of this phenomenon, stirred up further by the Tories’ spending cuts.

If Labour is ever to renew itself as a political force to be reckoned with, it must address these concerns. Part of it is increasing and improving skills, not just university degrees, and providing an infrastructure to help disabled people and those who have to care for members of their family to work and to earn. We need to be clear about maintaining and enforcing minimum pay and conditions and housing standards. We need a benefit system that is fair and is seen to be fair. Those who are enjoying the fruits of globalisation also need to understand if they want to carry on doing so, they have to find a way to take along those who have been left behind. But most of all Labour need to be seen to know and care about these issues 365 days a year, not just as we approach an election.


Mary Wimbury is former parliamentary candidate for Aberconwy. She tweets @MaryWimbury