It's time to unite to keep Scotland in Europe

Last week the Borders, along with the rest of Scotland, expressed clear support for continued membership of the European Union.

I think this result shows that many of us understand the significant benefits the EU has brought.

There was a very impressive turnout in the region of 73.4 per cent and while I was a strong advocate for Remain, I also want to reach out to the significant numbers of my constituents who voted to Leave. 

It's vital that we now come together with an agenda of respect and tolerance to work out where we go next.

We all need to take time to reflect in a calm and measured way on what this result means in the longer term.

There are however some immediate priorities that we need to pursue. We must do everything we can to put pressure on the UK government to conduct negotiations in the interests of the entire country.

In particular we must seek a solid commitment from ministers that they will work to mitigate the inevitable impact that this result will have on the rural economy.

In the south of Scotland there's the added misfortune that we were on the cusp of becoming eligible for the highest category of EU funding.

The farming community, with its links to all the other businesses involved in the supply chain of the rural economy, currently receive billions of pounds of support from the EU. We need a clear assurance that this funding will be matched going forward.

All parties need to work together to secure this aim. The sustainability of our fishing and agricultural sectors must not be traded away as the UK negotiates new terms for access to the European market.

Throughout this referendum campaign, there was a consistent failure from the Leave camp to offer coherent alternatives on the details of EU membership. This complete lack of clarity must be immediately remedied with a solid plan for action.

I've already heard from a number of concerned constituents who want to know how this result will impact on their lives. I will do everything I can in my capacity as an MP to seek answers on the various issues that are coming to the fore.

I'd also like to remind all citizens of other European countries living in my constituency that the Borders remains their home and I remain their MP. I will continue to do everything I can to fight for their interests at this uncertain time.

At a national level, we need to explore all possible routes to keep Scotland within the European Union — in line with the democratically expressed wishes of the Scottish people.

We now know that the UK has two years to negotiate a way out of the EU. Scotland has two years to negotiate staying in.

British politics has moved into a very different phase and nothing should be left off the table as we consider how we can move forward. If Scotland is dragged out of the EU against its wishes I think this would be a democratic outrage. In addition to seeking clarity on what this vote means in the short-term we must also prioritise working towards the goal of Scotland retaining its voice in Europe.

Membership of the European Union has enriched our country on a number of levels and was poised to offer the Borders a significantly greater level of funding and support. We must now work to explore every possible solution to keep these benefits in place.