On Thursday, June 23rd, the people of Bristol voted by a significant majority for the UK to Remain in the EU. As a diverse, progressive and vibrant city, with many business and economic connections to the EU, we at Bristol Green Party agree with the majority of Bristolians that a vote to Remain was in the best interests of the city at this time; and in the interests of the country as a whole.
While we recognise that there were legitimate arguments for electing to leave the EU, we felt that the Leave campaign was being driven by an agenda based on division and fear tactics. The results of such a campaign, we feared, would be increased division in our communities.
However, the views of the majority of Bristolians were not reflected across the country as a whole, where a narrow overall majority voted to Leave the EU. While we recognise that many of us in Bristol are unhappy about this outcome and the uncertainty it has caused, we must try to pull together.
Sadly, there is some evidence that the referendum campaign tactics have already created unpleasant division in many of our British communities. Apart from the tragic murder of MP Jo Cox, who was working to protect the rights of refugees, across the country reports are coming in that individuals and communities are the targets of hate crime. Immigrants from Eastern Europe as well as existing UK citizens from ethnic minorities have reported disturbing incidents.
While these incidents are relatively few in number, and carried out by a tiny minority, they contribute to the atmosphere of fear and uncertainty that recent events have precipitated.
In Bristol, whether we voted to Leave or to Remain, we can’t allow this result to destroy our communities. We can’t allow the people of our city to view each other with fear and suspicion. Now, more than ever, we must act calmly and with care; care of each other, and care of our city.
We must show care not only to the huge numbers of people from diverse cultures and backgrounds that make up our city, but to all those who voted to Leave based on a feeling that their interests had been ignored by successive governments. We respect their democratic decision and do not believe that a Leave vote was inevitably a racist vote. Bristol stands for unity, and we would like to ask all Bristolians to stand in solidarity with each other as we move through this challenging time.