June 23 will inevitably be marked in the history books as a day of great significance when the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. This vote is an unprecedented decision and one which I regret deeply. It is a decision which has divided our country and has left millions of people devastated and angry, especially young people, who overwhelmingly voted in favour of remaining.
The path Britain now faces is uncertain, and I am extremely concerned about what will happen next. Already we have seen the pound drop to a 31-year low against the US dollar, the markets plummet in the UK and Europe, and companies indicate that they are considering moving offices and jobs from Britain to other countries in Europe. There is a very real risk that our economy will be irreversibly damaged as a result of the referendum result.
So I am incredibly concerned for my children's future and for the future of all my constituents. I also fret over the impact on the poorest and most vulnerable members of our communities as they are the people who are hardest hit in times of economic hardship. I worry for my country as I don't want to see this great nation turn its back on the world and adopt the close-minded ideology which some members of the Leave Campaign preach.
I am also angry. Angry at those who led the Leave Campaign for the litany of lies that they knowingly peddled to the country. In the cold light of day after the referendum, we see those people reneging on the commitments they made to voters during the campaign. Commitments like those to substantially reduce immigration and to spend £350m pounds per week on the NHS have already been denied as either unworkable or unnecessary. Brexit campaigner and MEP Daniel Hannan has even denied that he and Vote Leave pledged to reduce immigration at all.
These (now-exposed) lies were just some of the reasons that Britain voted out. The electorate were sold a false promise which is unravelling, while the statements made by the Remain campaign, which were blasted as scaremongering are being proven true. Already hundreds of thousands of people who voted to leave the EU are claiming that they regret their decision.
Britain has to abide by the decision
Whilst clearly this was a democratic vote and we must abide by the decision, I and my Liberal Democrat colleagues do not agree this outcome is in the best interests of Britain. We believe the United Kingdom is stronger, safer, and better off in Europe and therefore when we next face a General Election we will fight on a platform to take the UK back into the EU.
As the other two parties fight amongst themselves, it falls to the Lib Dems to fight for our European future. If a majority of people vote for our party and other parties committed to the UK's EU membership, and the outcome of the Article 50 negotiations does not meet their favour, then with that democratic mandate we can reverse the catastrophic decision made last Thursday.
Since the referendum over 10,000 people have joined the Liberal Democrats because we are the only party fully committed to internationalism and liberalism. We need to ensure the United Kingdom does not become the country of Nigel Farage's vision. We believe that Britain is and should be an engaged, outward-looking nation. One that welcomes immigrants, values their contributions, and is enhanced by other cultures, whilst of course recognising the need to support communities affected by immigration.
We believe that Britain belongs in Europe, that we are European as well as British and that neither should diminish the other. We need to stand and fight for a better kind of Britain than the one painted by the Leave campaign.
Tom Brake is Lib Dem MP for Carshalton & Wallington, Chief Whip and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson.