My Reflection on Referendum Result: Speech to Full Council

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The events of the last two weeks have clearly caused anxiety and distress for a number of people living in Sheffield. We all now have a role to play in helping our city come together after a difficult and divisive period, especially as it is clear that if we leave the EU we will be financially worse off–both individually and as a city overall. We have to reflect carefully on this result and respect the result.

We find ourselves in the ludicrous position where the vote for Brexit was caused by inequality and could now end up worsening inequality.

Sheffield City Region was scheduled to receive over £180 million through to 2020, in addition to the £1 billion we have received over the last 15 years.

Of course, as a city, we will and we must do everything we can to secure as much of that money as possible. But nobody should think it is likely we will secure all of it – or even most of it.

This is the harsh reality of Brexit. The manner in which the Leaders of the Leave campaign have behaved is atrocious and a total abdication of their responsibilities. They should be ashamed of themselves.

The UK government hasn’t acted much better. It is simply not good enough to say that they hope EU nationals will be allowed to stay in Britain.

These are people who have put down roots here, with children, families, caring responsibilities, who pay taxes and contribute to our economy and society. They deserve much better than being used by the Government as bargaining chips.

So for the moment, I want people from Europe who are living, learning and working in our city – some of whom are here today – to know that they are just as welcome here as they were before the referendum. European citizens make a huge contribution to both the economy and the vibrancy of our city, especially at our universities, and we are glad to have them contributing in this way.

In the global age, our city’s diversity is a strength not a weakness. We are them and they are us.

It is also quite obvious that many people feel that the economy doesn’t work for them; and we have to redouble our efforts to address the anxieties and insecurities that people understandably feel as a result of rapid global change.

I’d like to conclude by saying that Sheffield will always be a vibrant, welcoming and European city. The referendum result won’t change that.

I am sure that this city will not tolerate any actions that sow division in our communities or play people against each other. Certainly the Council won’t.

Sheffield has always prided itself on being a welcoming, inclusive and friendly city and we must all do everything we can to nuture and protect this treasured reputation.

Speech to Full Council: “Sheffield for Europe – Europe for Sheffield”

On Wednesday, I spoke at the Full Council meeting of Sheffield City Council on the importance of the EU to both Sheffield and Britain.  Below are my remarks – I’m grateful for your thoughts.

european_union

When the EU was founded, men and women who had been trying to kill each other just 10 years earlier shook hands and promised there would never again be another European Great war. They kept that promise and from the ashes of war, they built a peace and a solidarity that still binds our continent together today.

Now, the prospect of European countries going to war with each other has diminished and we face another set of challenges: The threat of climate change. global criminal networks, trafficking and people smuggling, mass movement of refugees, tax havens and controlling global finance.

No country on earth – no matter how great – can tackle these issues by itself. Every one of these challenges requires more coordination between countries, more collaboration, more sharing of information and a more international approach. That is what the European Union provides.

Across our country, we can see the impact the EU has had – creating millions of jobs, opening trade and investment, bringing people together and broadening horizons.

Within Sheffield, our landscape is defined by the investment the EU has secured. Just imagine Sheffield without the EU:

  • No Peace Gardens,
  • No Train Station,
  • No Advanced Manufacturing Park,
  • No new bus lanes,
  • No new play equipment, No new woodlands and so on and so on.
  • And now the Fox Valley Retail Development in Stocksbridge, the Grey to Green scheme and the Castle Market project have all secured EU funding and would not have happened without it.

The upcoming referendum is one of the defining political issues of our generation. Those of us who will lead the campaign for Britain to remain a member of the EU have a big job to do in busting media myths and UKIP scaremongering.

This must be a positive campaign. We don’t want Britain to be a small-minded, small-hearted and small-time country.

Britain can only play its rightful role in the world through Europe and with out European partners. We can all be proud to be a Sheffielder, proud to be British and proud to be European.

I’d like to conclude by saying that no government is perfect. The EU isn’t perfect either. But for all its faults, it is the most peaceful, most prosperous and most successful democratic Union in the history of the world.

And I am confident that when the time comes, the people of Sheffield will choose prosperity over poverty, choose partnership over division and choose hope over fear by voting strongly to remain a member of the EU.

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