Responding to Britain’s historic referendum decision to leave the EU, Sunder Katwala, Director of independent identity and integration thinktank British Future, said:
“This historic vote presents a big challenge to our political leaders. Not just Prime Minister David Cameron but just as importantly his colleagues who have led the Leave campaign to victory – Boris Johnson and Michael Gove. How they react to this moment will help to set the national mood in the days ahead.
“This was a close decision, one made by peaceful, democratic means, and a decision we must all now respect. Those who have disagreed during the campaign must now come together and ensure we all get the best Brexit for Britain – one that respects the voters’ decision, ensures our prosperity and reflects our values of tolerance, fairness and openness to the rest of the world.
“The vote to Leave was a public vote of no confidence: in the Remain campaign; in the EU as the best way to pursue the UK’s interests; and in how governments have handled immigration.
“On immigration, the government will need to listen to the voters and rebuild the public trust that has been eroded by unkept promises. Most people want immigration managed competently and fairly: they don’t feel the pressures have been dealt with properly but they do still want to keep the benefits of immigration to our economy and our society.
“We now need to hear a clear message from both sides of the referendum debate, and from the government, that this was not a vote to slam the borders shut or to stir up prejudice against those Europeans already living among us as workmates, neighbours and friends.
“There is real and understandable anxiety among the 3 million EU migrants who live in Britain about what the Leave vote means for them. The best response to that would be an unequivocal statement – from politicians and the British people – that this is their home and they continue to be welcome here.”
British Future has launched a Change.or petition, ‘Tell EU migrants in UK: This is your home, you are welcome here‘
Sunder Katwala is Director of British Future and co-author of ‘How (not) to talk about Europe’ (British Future, 2016)