I campaigned hard for the UK to remain in the EU and I was bitterly disappointed at the result, although not surprised: I speak to constituents on the doorstep every week and I could feel the way the mood was moving. That said, I believe that the City of Chester constituency voted about 54% to remain, based on statistical analysis of ballot papers at the count.
It took just a few hours – until 8 am on Friday, in fact, for Nigel Farage to admit that the British people had been conned. I had always challenged the claimed figure of £350 million a week, which was being allocated by the Leave campaign to the NHS, to the farmers, to fishermen, to industry and many other areas, but even I was stunned at the breath-taking casualness with which the Leave campaign agreed that the figure, emblazoned on their battle bus, was wrong. Then on the Friday night, Tory MEP Daniel Hannam admitted that it was also untrue that we would be able to control immigration in the manner the Leave campaign had claimed. It was a campaign built on lies.
Meanwhile my and others’ warnings were proved true, with Airbus announcing a review of its investment strategy on the Friday morning, and HSBC immediately transferring 1000 jobs from London to Paris. The pound is at a 30-year low and the City is only maintaining its current resilience based on £250 billion of support from the Bank of England. It is also clear that the Conservative government had no Plan B, and had done no work on contingency planning. Hence the chaos we now see.
Several constituents have asked that I vote in Parliament against ratification of the result of the Referendum. I am not going to do that however, because it would fuel the allegation of Parliament being out of touch with the national mood.
All the people who conned us into voting Leave have now left the stage, leaving the chaos to the rest of us. The way forward is not yet clear, but I do not think the battle is yet lost. I am intrigued by the idea of a second referendum on the deal we eventually strike, also offering a choice to reverse the decision. I want to remain in the EU and just because Leave narrowly won the referendum does not mean I have to change my opinion. But it means all who wish to remain have to maintain the debate and continue to expose the failures and lies of the Leave campaign. We now wait to see if Theresa May, as the next Prime Minister, will wait to trigger the Article 50 process. But this story is far from over and I intend to provide rigorous scrutiny and debate as events unfold.