Wednesday the 29th of March sees the much-anticipated triggering of Article 50 which starts the formal process of the UK leaving the European Union. I am optimistic about our leaving of the EU and I believe that our country has a very bright future as a uniquely placed outwardly looking global nation.
The UK voted Leave by 52% to 48% in last June’s referendum and in Crawley we voted Leave by 58% to 42%. However, while my view and the majority view is positive about us leaving the EU, I recognise that over 40% is a very significant minority and that not only do people like myself need to recognise this opposing view, we need to be respectful of it. Indeed, I recognise the concerns about the uncertainty going forward that many Remain voters have. This is why I think that as start to leave the EU, we need to come together and make sure we make the very best of it for our country’s future, regardless of how we all voted last June.
Therefore, it is very disappointing that the Crawley Labour Party feel unable to be respectful of differing views from theirs on Brexit. I was appalled when the day after the referendum the former Chairman of the Crawley Labour Party, who is also Labour’s candidate for Three Bridges & Pound Hill South in the upcoming County Council elections on 4th May, wrote on his publicly viewable Facebook account: “So it’s confirmed. We live on a nasty little island where a majority of ignorant little bigots have just voted to slash their economic throats”.
While feelings can run high in politics, all of us involved in public life should maintain respect for opposing viewpoints and certainly not be insulting of those who exercised their democratic right to vote Leave in the EU referendum. As we enter these uncertain times with the triggering of Article 50, we will be stronger as a country if we are tolerant and respectful of our differences, and if we all pull together to make sure our country is successful outside of the EU.