I am devastated and I am angry. Today we woke to a deeply divided country.
Nigel Farage’s vision for Britain has won this vote, but it is not a vision I accept.
An institution that we built, that delivered peace, that promoted equality, kept us safe and opened the doors of opportunity, will no longer play part of Britain’s future.
With this vote, the very fabric of our country has changed.
The whole fabric of Europe has been changed.
Even though the vote was close, the majority of British people want us to leave.
But we refuse to give up on our beliefs.
Our fight for an open, optimistic, hopeful, diverse and tolerant Britain is needed now more than ever.
Together we will continue to make the case for Britain’s future with Europe, a future millions of people have voted for.
Together we cannot afford to let that vision die.
The Liberal Democrats will continue to stand and fight for a better kind of Britain than the one painted by the leave campaign.
If you are as angry and heartbroken as I am, I need you to join us today.
As Gladstone said almost 130 years ago – ‘We are part of the community of Europe, and must do our duty as such.’
Hope and optimism, openness and tolerance, cooperation and togetherness can succeed.
We must not let this vote allow our country to turn to division, isolation and decline.
Fellow Liberal Democrats, your efforts, in every corner of Britain, have been incredible, and I am immensely proud of the role you have played in this campaign.
As Charles Kennedy said, this party – our family – has Europe in its DNA.
I am a northerner, I am English, I am British and I am a European. I am proud of all four, and I am not alone.
It has been a privilege for me to lead people so committed to our internationalist values and united behind a vision of Britain that is tolerant, outward-looking and compassionate.
While others sat on their hands, you guys pulled a shift in every community in Britain. I am proud of you.
For years we have been told we have had to hide our vision on Europe.
Today we stand alongside millions of people who share in that vision.
Those people share our values, our belief and our ambition for Britain.
What stands out to me more than anything, is the great injustice to future generations.
It looks like younger voters voted to remain at a staggering margin – almost three-quarters wanting to stay in.
Their future has been taken away by older generations.
What a tragedy that older voters, the people who have been able to benefit from European integration, have removed the opportunity for those coming behind them.
So, Boris, Michael Gove, Nigel Farage. You've got your wish. Britain is out.
Now, what do you intend to do with it?
Simple catch phrases, bluff and bluster no longer cut it.
What do you say to the millions of Europeans who have made Britain their home?
What do you say to the millions of Britons who livelihoods are on the line?
You must look those people in the eye, and tell them what you can offer.
- Overnight, sterling has plummeted
- £120 billion was wiped off the market in the first 10 minutes
- Our banks are now more precarious
- People’s pensions are at risk
In a matter of moments we are no longer the 5th largest economy in the world, we’re sixth, behind France, and falling.
We are at serious risk that last night’s vote will inflict damage to our economy that can’t be undone.
Economics isn’t about numbers on a spreadsheet it’s about people, people’s homes, jobs, livelihoods – now all put at risk.
For decades, politicians on all sides have pointed the finger of blame at Europe.
Lies and invented claims were left unchallenged.
No wonder that the British people don't trust it, and don't believe it.
And when the PM backed remain, after a career of criticising Europe, it should be no surprise that no one trusted or believed him either.
Successive Prime Ministers – Conservative and Labour –allowed the myth to grow that ‘Europe’ interferes in our sovereignty in ways it never has.
Even when you consider the referendum itself, it only came about because it was politically expedient for David Cameron to hide from the European issue before the general election.
This vote has been a collective howl of frustration - at the political class, at big business, at a global elite.
This was not a vote on the European Union alone.
Years of frustration, dissatisfaction and people feeling ignored have been building to this point.
Too often the European Union has been used as a distraction from failures in government.
The pressures on our schools, the pressures on our hospitals and GP surgeries, the pressures on our infrastructure are problems made in Westminster, in our own Parliament, by British politicians.
The insecurities from zero hours contracts, the housing crisis, the desertion of the industrial north, the expenses scandals and the banking crisis, these are all problems made in Westminster.
No wonder people feel ignored and neglected by politics.
They have seen their living standards falling further and further behind the rest of society.
They are angry.
They are right to feel angry.
I share that anger.
But Nigel Farage is not the answer.
12 months ago David Cameron had the best result of his career. Today, the worst.
I was honoured to share a platform with the Prime Minster on this campaign, but this result, this self-inflicted wound, will be his legacy.
There have been many things I did not agree with the Prime Minister on, but I must thank him for his stewardship of the country and for the way he took the very bold move to create a Coalition Government in 2010. It was an incredible act of bi-partisan cooperation.
The result of the referendum has left him with no choice. In this immediate period, the Government must act quickly to steady the economy, reassure the markets, and immediately set a new course.
Greater instability will lead to job uncertainty, falling investment, and greater pressure on public services.
There is no doubt this is going to be an incredibly testing, difficult and fractious time.
David Cameron has become the latest Conservative leader to fall victim to his party’s dangerous obsession with Europe. The Conservative’s political maneuvering has taken our country to the brink, and today we have toppled over the edge.
And what he does with this moment is pivotal.
He is right not to invoke Article 50 immediately, but to take time to set out a constructive vision of our relationship with Europe.
People on both sides of this debate must be brought together to set the course for how we leave.
There is no doubt this is going to be an incredibly testing, difficult and fractious time.
There were some genuinely amazing cross party moments in this campaign.
I really enjoyed standing alongside some of this country’s greatest progressive politicians.
But with politicians of all parties working together, one of the things that stood out in this campaign, was Jeremy Corbyn’s bizarre refusal to share a platform in the face of the greatest challenge our country was faced in a generation.
I have stood alongside Gordon Brown, Harriet Harman, Chukka Umuna, Andy Burnham and Sadiq Kahn.
Great progressive Labour politicians that I admire - forced to campaign with their hands tied behind their back because of short sighted demands from their Leader’s office.
Where was the leader of that party?
Even when the future of our country depended on him, he could not bring himself to reach across the aisle.
When the call went out for help, Jeremy Corbyn refused to answer.
The once-proud working class Labour vote has abandoned Corbyn in droves.
Great Labour cities have been driven into the arms of UKIP and Nigel Farage.
It is clearer than ever that Jermyn Corbyn has more concern for his own position in his own party, rather than his country.
This has been a brutal campaign.
Tempers ran high, allegations were flung, and animosity crept into friendships.
Today I stand for the 48%. I stand for the 16 million.
Because I believe that we are instinctively an optimistic, hopeful country.
We are diverse, welcoming and open-hearted.
In this spirit we must move forward.
In this campaign we stood together against campaigns that sought to stoke bitterness and English nationalism.
Together, our progressive unity must not now be allowed to fade away.
Our liberal, progressive values are true British values and we must fight so hard to ensure they remain at the forefront of our politics.
In many ways this referendum has shown how our politics is broken
There is a very black cloud hanging over our country, but under that cloud, under the narrow painful defeat, there is a silver lining.
Because for the last few weeks I have stood alongside progressives, in Labour, Greens, SNP even Conservatives. It felt so much like there was more that united us than divided us.
We must not allow this unity to fade away.
When other parties are divided and wounded, I will reach out.
I am proud of the campaign that my party has run.
Positive, energetic and hopeful.
That’s the sort of party we are, and that is my offer to the country. It is my offer to all people who share our values.
I can offer you a home for a new modern breed of politics - liberal, hopeful, international, rational - driven by real British values.
Positive about Europe, furious with those who led us to this disaster. Determined that we will not walk away from this fight.
Together we can lay foundations for a better Britain.
Together we can heal the rifts of a divisive and negative campaign.
Be proud that you’re one of the 48%. The 16 million.
Help us build a better, more effective and more representative politics.
Help us fight for real British values at home and abroad.
Show our fellow Europeans that Britain is a good neighbour. Is proud to be a European country. Is proud to lead.
So join us.
Already, today, a thousand new members have joined the Liberal Democrats in a spontaneous act of those who refuse to allow Farage’s vision of a bitter Britain to win.
They want a better Britain.
If you share their anger, if you share my anger, join us, and join us now.
16 million people. 48%. In need of a voice.
A politics of hope and optimism.
We will not give up.
You must not give up.