There is little doubt that the referendum result of 23 June has created a period of political and economic turmoil and uncertainty. Some have suggested that there should be a second referendum or that MPs should try to overturn the result. I do not take this view. The campaign was fought, the vote was held, turnout was high and the public gave a clear verdict which we should respect. We need to come together, unite and work to establish the positive new direction for our country outside of the European Union. Whether you voted leave or remain, we are all Brexiters now.
The priority is to negotiate the best possible agreement for the UK harnessing the new flexibilities and freedoms being outside of the EU provides. This includes providing greater controls over those who come here from the EU than current free movement rules allow.
What is completely unacceptable is to use the outcome of the referendum as some sort of cover to sow bitterness, hatred or division against people because of the colour of their skin or because they were not born in this country. Sadly we have seen some vile examples of abuse if not outright racism in the wake of the referendum. This repugnant behaviour does not represent the values of the country I know and love. We must confront it in the strongest terms.
It has been suggested by some that what we need now is a General Election. I think this is mistaken. At a time of such instability and uncertainty we should not compound this by triggering an election which would put back steps to establish our negotiating position and the way forward. The Conservative Government was elected for a five year term on a manifesto commitment to hold a referendum on our continuing membership of the EU. This had the clear implication that the UK could vote to leave.
The country now needs strong, proven leadership and a clear sense of direction – to give confidence to investors, to keep the economy moving and to keep people in work. We need someone with experience who is ready to be Prime Minister from day one. That is why I backed Theresa May to be the next leader of the Conservative Party in the recent MPs ballot.
Having worked closely with Theresa throughout her time as Home Secretary, I know she sees politics not as a game but as a serious mission to change people’s lives for the better. She is tough and no nonsense and gets on with the job. We need a bold, new, positive vision for the future of our country. I strongly believe Theresa May is the best person to deliver this.