And so, the result that no one expected, not even those campaigning for it, has come to pass. David Cameron has fallen on his sword and the subsequent coronation of Prime Minister Johnson has likewise failed to materialise thanks to some last-minute, Ancient Rome inspired skullduggery by Michael Gove. In the meantime, we’re touting Theresa ‘leave the convention of human rights’ May as the liberal candidate for the Conservative leadership whilst the Labour ‘chicken coup’ finally appears to be abating with its newly resigned hens heading to the backbenches to roost. What a week in politics, what a week for Britain.

As the post-Brexit hysteria appears finally to be calming down, both remainers and leavers are beginning to take stock of the situation our nation has found itself in. It’s not pretty. Xenophobic attacks have increased, with thousands of citizens from ethnic minorities now living their lives in fear, and markets have suffered with billions being wiped off share prices. It’s no wonder that around 7% of Brexit voters are now regretting their decision.

My constituency, Stockport, was one of only three boroughs in Greater Manchester to vote remain in the referendum, the other two being Manchester and Trafford, whereas Tameside, Rochdale, Oldham, Salford, Wigan, Bolton and Bury all voted to leave. Although overall Manchester voted to stay, the results were so devastating that Ann Coffey, Stockport’s MP, tabled a motion of no-confidence in the Labour leader, claiming that his “heart was not in” the campaign for Britain to remain.

Manchester’s results appear to show a pattern similar across the UK. Traditionally Labour voting, working-class areas ignored the party and its call to arms and voted leave. Most political commentators now agree this is due to a feeling of abandonment felt by the party’s decision in recent years to take their vote for granted and chase the liberal floating voters up and down the country, whose decision on the ballot can swing a general election. This is instead of addressing quite valid concerns about affordable housing, a lack of secure jobs, long delays at the doctors and swollen classroom sizes which affect the working-classes more than the wealthy. Concerns which were all easily explained by the Brexit scapegoat of immigration, immigration, immigration.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and perhaps given another chance the Remain camp would have pushed ahead with some of the more controversial campaign posters they rejected, or been more gung-ho in calling out the Brexit camps lies – amazing how quickly that £350m for the NHS was described as a mistake. Or maybe by admitting to the electorate that the lack of the services they need has very little to do with immigration, but instead a climate of austerity.

But here we are, the people have spoken, and what does the result mean for Manchester? As the pound plummets and forecasts for budgetary surpluses are scrapped, Chancellor George Osborne has insisted his pet project, the Northern Powerhouse, will continue despite the referendum result. Perhaps he hopes a newly prosperous North will repair some of the damage done to the economy by the result, or perhaps he wants to leave something of a legacy, given that his mate Cameron’s campaign to stay in the EU was such a disaster. Either way, the importance of a project that promises, albeit unconvincingly, to bring £97bn and 850,000 jobs to the North is clear in light of the economic uncertainty generated by the referendum.

And what of the funding our region will now miss out on? Manchester has benefited hugely from European money in the past. Victoria’s tram stop was partially funded by a £10.8m grant from the European Regional Development fund in 2014 and Newton Heath’s Sharp Project was in receipt of a £7m windfall from Brussels. Add to this the £356m that Manchester received from the European Commission to support investment in innovation, businesses, skills and job creation and the severity of the shortfall in available income on our city’s ledger book is clear. With counties such as Cornwall already demanding that lost EU funds be replaced, the UK is going to be stretched thin when it comes to sharing out its money and there is no guarantee that Manchester’s previous receipts will be matched. There’s not only concern in regards to development funding. EU students contribute massively to the local economy and if it becomes more difficult for them to study here, they will take that money elsewhere, meaning Manchester misses out again.

Equally, what does this mean for Labour in the North? Does the switch in allegiance to the Brexit campaign by what have always been Labour strongholds pre-empt a change in voting patterns in the future? Are these the last days of Labour dominance? Currently Manchester City Council has one non-Labour councillor, John Leech (Liberal Democrat – Didsbury West), but with turnout up to 70% in the referendum and a newly politicised environment, could UKIP become the new voice of the disaffected white voter? The North West has so far not shown much aversion to voting for the purple party, with the Heywood & Middleton seat polling a 32% vote share for UKIP at the last general election. Similarly, our region also elected three UKIP MEPs back in 2014. Will the Brexit result embolden more people to turn out for the party in 2020?

It would be quite easy to feel disheartened by the result, whichever side you voted for. Remainers are understandably heartbroken by what they see as a return to ‘Little England’ thinking and Brexiters are sensibly incensed that the leave campaign are already being backtracked on the assurances they’d promised. Many of us will have EU citizens as friends who are experiencing anxiety and confusion at being rejected by a country which they contribute to and happily call home. It’s difficult to deny that the future looks pretty grim.

I voted to remain, as many of you reading this will have done too, but I don’t begrudge anyone who voted to leave on the back of the lies and mistruths of the Brexit camp. As we enter this uncharted territory, we will need people of all backgrounds, beliefs and political allegiances to help navigate our city through these choppy waters. The referendum has thrown up more questions than it has answered, but our city has survived worse and it will survive this too. Regardless of how we voted, Manchester is, and will always be, an international city, happy to welcome tourists and share its magnificence to the world, and in these dark times it’s important to remember that.

Here are a few local events discussing the post-EU future:

Open meeting: the aftermath of the referendum… what do we do now?
11 July | Mechanics Institute | time | Info

Where Do We Stand Now?
12 July | Contact Theatre | 6.30pm onwards | Info

The Way Forward after the Brexit referendum
20 July | Friends’ Meeting House | 7-9pm | Info

Image by Jon Cannon.

David Ewing