I want to send a huge thank you to all the members of the public who – in the street, on the trains and elsewhere as I travelled yesterday – took the time to say they appreciated the spirit of my speech in Parliament on Thursday and the related Today programme interview yesterday.
They showed me there is appetite for reconciliation and progress in this country: we can hope to come together and move on.
Find the full speech on YouTube: https://youtu.be/ECKrQAfLyD4
I said for example:
Currently, journalists are asking me how I feel about tomorrow, the day of our leaving the European Union. It is, after all, the conclusion of what I have worked for for a good 10 to 12 years of my life—I got into politics because of that fury about the Lisbon treaty—so I should be elated. I should be rejoicing, but I am reminded of Wellington:
“Believe me, nothing except a battle lost is half so melancholy as a battle won.”
I approach tomorrow in a spirit of some considerable melancholy. I very much regret the division that this country has faced. I very much regret the cost of coming so far—the things we have had to do in British politics to get to this point. I very much regret the sorrow that my opponents will feel tomorrow as some are rejoicing on the streets.
I know that we are going to celebrate. I will celebrate—I will allow myself a smile and that glass of champagne and I will enjoy myself—but I will celebrate discreetly and in a way that is respectful of the genuine sorrow that others are feeling at the same time. That means not that I am giving in—it does not mean that I am turning away from what I believe—but that I recognise that all of us on the Government Benches who have won the argument now have a duty to be magnanimous. I urge that on everyone, inside and outside the House, even as we press forward.
There are some who take an attitude of “no quarter” after the events of the past few years, and I say to them no, enough. We have to forgive and turn away from what has happened in the past, because ?we need to create the future that we can all enjoy and be proud of in this country. It is not a future based on past grievances; it is an open and expansive future that embraces the infinite value of every other person, even when we disagree with one another.
Find the written record here: http://bit.ly/BakerGlobalBritain
You can find the related Today programme interview in a segment from 08:10 here: https://bbc.in/31emJO2