Lincolnshire

Column: Why did the referendum unite the parties, but divide the country?

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Those tasked with leadership of parliamentary parties were mud-slinging electoral enemies in May, became uncomfortable bedfellows in June and turned on their own leaders in July. All but one party in Parliament recommended their members to vote remain in the EU.

To those in the Westminster bubble at the outset, it must have seemed an easy win. Mr Cameron called the election, yet could not command the support of his government nor the country. With the biggest turnout I can remember, individuals made up their own minds.

Having entered the battle personally and directly, parliamentary leaders were then marooned. Breath-taking back-stabbing has echoes of a Roman history, only faster.

Most unions, some big businesses and environmental bodies recommended remain, based mainly on worker conditions, trade and environmental protection.

Yet people were worried about sovereignty, the inability to control immigration, especially in less prosperous areas outside London and integrity of the EU itself. It is vital we understand the differences to get on with negotiating the conditions and most importantly, the rules for doing business together.

All over Lincolnshire cross-party colleagues shared campaigns for leave. Lincolnshire Independents stayed Independent, with individuals speaking strongly on both sides.

Lincolnshire had one of the highest turnouts nationally and the highest vote for leave, voting independently of the parties.

It is a salutary lesson that people in elected public office need to listen and adequately tackle problems raised by our residents. Whatever their parties said, Individuals across the county, made up their own minds.

Those charged with sorting out the present and expected problems will need to take the local authorities’ demand seriously or risk loss of grassroots support. Values run like a thread throughout, but party policy can only be right some of the time.

People were asked to vote for an uncertain better future when around us we can see immediate problems that need tackling. Walking the leafy suburbs of London last week, I can see the houses, roads and pavements in good order, good wages flowing in, a choice of local walk-in and midwifery services – all good reasons for voting “no change”.

It is the other areas that need change. Wealthy people spend in wealthy areas, so market forces help, but are not enough on their own.

To keep our local businesses successful, we need the agreed EU regeneration funding in local authorities.

To keep our services running, we need the business rates as well as other funding and indeed, strong community support.

To keep good health and adult care, we need proper funding and devolution of integrated care to our councils.

To keep the balance and enable us to provide what is needed, we need moderate migration, resources and proper planning control.

EU regulations have influenced much of what we councils want to do; sound procurement, a clean and diverse environment, minimising waste, fair employment and public protection.

There is much to do in building the kind of country we want, both nationally and locally. Whether it is growing local businesses, improving health, housing, planning or electoral reform, now is a good time for us to carefully target our efforts.

We have worked on devolution of power and money from central government to local and now we need to do the same from Europe.

We still need a democracy that is listening, inclusive and effective.

There is much to do, bringing groups and individuals together to support Lincolnshire in creating a sound future over the next two years and beyond.