Now we have the truth about Hillsborough, it is time for justice

The report proves that it was the fans who were the real heroes on the day.

A national tragedy requires a national response. At such a time, it is the responsibility of the Prime Minister to speak to Britain, for Britain. It is a task that only the Prime Minister can fulfil and its symbolism has a profound effect on those directly and indirectly associated with the tragedy. Today, the Prime Minister delivered, for the families, survivors, and the city of Liverpool.

Hillsborough will always be synonymous with one of the biggest losses of British life in any one day since the end of the Second World War. In the 23 years that have passed, two very different stories have emerged about that day, and three key elements have haunted those associated with it. The failure of the authorities to help protect people. The attempt to blame the fans. And the doubt cast on the original Coroner's Inquest.

The real version of events was told today and I am confident it will become known simply as ‘the truth’. It is a version of events that depicts the carnage at Hillsborough through the eyes of the survivors and the families of the victims. It makes clear that whilst the police froze and did nothing, the fans reacted and saved many more lives.

The second version, which has now been proven to be false, was told through the eyes of a warped media. The Sun newspaper despicably produced a headline that suggested Liverpool fans had stolen money from the dead, had urinated on the "brave cops" who were trying to save lives and had been drunk and ticketless. As the Prime Minister said, "This was clearly wrong."

Today's report has shocked the nation. 96 deaths, of which 41 could and should have survived if those responsible for our safety had done their jobs. 164 police officer statements amended, 116 negative comments removed from witness statements, and a 23 year campaign for truth and justice.

It proved, once and for all, that it was the fans who were the real heroes on the day and that the police, press and politicians, conspired to instigate a cover up that would smear a city and its people, whilst allowing the guilty to evade responsibility for their deadly mistakes. Liverpool has been exonerated. The guilt for the deaths lies squarely at the door of South Yorkshire Police, who made catastrophic mistakes and unashamedly sought to deflect the blame onto the fans.

The Hillsborough families cannot accept the Coroner’s verdict of "accidental death" and some have never even picked up the death certificates for their loved ones. It has been proved that some victims were alive well past the 3.15pm cut off and that if the authorities had acted quicker, more people would have survived.  After today’s publication, the families will be appealing for the Attorney General to make an application to the High Court for the inquests to be reopened and a new cause of death to be determined.

Hillsborough was a tragedy that transcends party politics and unites parliament and the country. So whilst the overwhelming majority of Merseyside fundamentally disagrees with the Prime Minister’s politics and the direction he is taking the country, today we are eternally grateful.

His apology will not be met with celebrations on Merseyside. Instead, there will simply be dignified remembrance from a city that will no longer be a lone voice in a sea of ignorance and scepticism. Whilst for some, the true horror of 15 April 1989 has been eclipsed by the passage of time. For others, today’s news will see the conclusion of half our 23 year cause. Now that the truth has been ascertained, it is time for justice to be delivered.

Steve Rotheram is Labour MP for Liverpool Walton.

A Liverpool Football Club shirt with 'The Truth Now Justice At Last, RIP The 96' is tied to the Shankly gates at Anfield stadium. Photograph: Getty Images.

Steve Rotheram is Labour MP for Liverpool Walton.

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What are the consequences of Brexit for the refugee crisis?

Politicians neglected the refugee crisis whilst campaigning – but they shouldn't now concede to the darker undertones of the debate.

In the chaotic aftermath of Brexit, the refugee crisis seems like a distant memory. Yet not even a year has passed since the body of a young Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach, shocking the world.

When campaigning for the EU referendum began, politicians neglected the crisis. Not because the situation had ameliorated, but because the issue had become strategically toxic. Nigel Farage's infamous poster aside, the Leave side preferred scare stories about economic migrants rather than refugees; the Remain side because the refugee crisis, more than anything else since its inception, highlighted the fragility of the ideals that underpin the European Union.

Many of the main issues aired in the course of the referendum debate were related to the refugee crisis, regardless of how little it impacted on them in reality; immigration, strain on public services, national identity. The refugee crisis became a proxy issue; implied, but not addressed, for fear of detrimental impact in the polls.

However, in his repugnant posters (it should be stressed, nothing to do with Leave campaign itself), Nigel Farage made explicit what he thought posed the greatest threat to the UK. Rightly, the posters have been condemned by both sides of the referendum debate, but the underlying suspicion of refugees it reflects has concerned many organisations.Their concern has only been exacerbated by the result of the referendum. The spike in hate crime compounds their fears.

Paul Dillane, head of UKLGIG, a charity that supports LGBTI asylum seekers to the UK, expressed unease at the reaction of his clients: “The asylum seekers I work with do not understand the decision that has been made – they feel vulnerable, they feel unwelcome. Yes the law hasn’t changed, and if they’re at risk of persecution, they will be protected. But they don’t feel like that now.”

Despite the troubling situation, the result of the referendum changes little when it comes to refugee law. “Refugee policy is shaped in London, not in Brussels”, said Stephen Hale, Chief Executive of Refugees Action. “The decision about how well we support refugees in terms of integration is a matter for the UK, not Brussels. The number of Syrian refugees we choose to resettle is a matter for the UK, not Brussels.”

Although the law may not have changed, from a diplomatic or political perspective, the same cannot be said. This does have the power to negatively impact legislation. Post-Brexit reaction in France surrounding the Touquet Treaty typifies this.

The Touquet Treaty, reached between the UK and France in 2003, permits each country to carry out passport checks on the other countries’ soil. It is what, according to French politicians in Calais, has accelerated the growth of the "Jungle", which currently accommodates close to 5,000 refugees.

Because the agreement was signed outside the auspices of the European Union, Brexit does not affect its legal legitimacy. However, for France, EU membership was crucial to the nature of the agreement. Speaking earlier this year, Harlem Desir, French Secretary of State for European Affairs, said the Touquet Treaty is “a bilaterial agreement. So, there will be no blackmail, nor threat, but it’s true that we cooperate more easily in both being members of the EU.”

Natacha Bouchart, mayor of Calais and a long-time critic of the treaty, has been vocal in her demands for legislative change since the result. Speaking to French broadcaster BGM TV, she said: “The British must take on the consequences of their choice. We are in a strong position to push, to press this request for a review and we are asking the President to bring his weight to the issue.” Some have adopted the slogan of the Leave campaign, telling them to now “take back control of your borders.”

Modification of the Touquet Treaty was branded part of ‘Project Fear’ by the Leave campaign. Because of this, change – if indeed it does happen – needs to be handled carefully by both the British and French governments.

The reaction of Natacha Bouchart is already a worrying sign for refugees. Firstly, it perpetuates the toxic narrative that casts refugees as an inconvenience. And secondly, any souring of relations between the UK and France over Brexit and the Touquet Treaty only increases the likelihood of refugees being used as political bargaining chips in the broader EU crisis over Schengen.

A divided government and disintegrating opposition do little to aid the situation. Furthermore, come October, how likely is a Brexit Tory cabinet – governing off the back of a manifesto predicated on reducing immigration – to extend the support networks offered to refugees? Even before the referendum, Theresa May, a supporter of the Remain campaign, said that Britain should withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights, replacing it with the more questionable Bill of Rights.

Uncertainty of any kind is the most immediate danger to refugees. “Everyone is talking about it,” said Clare Mosesly, founder of Care4Calais. “But opinions on the impact are divided, which is creating yet more uncertainty.” Refugees, unsure whether Brexit will lead to increased fortification of the border, are prone to take ever more dangerous risks to reach the UK. Even economic uncertainty, seemingly distinct from issues such as the refugee crisis or immigration, has a negative impact. “The thing that worries me about a fragile economy”, said Paul Dillane, “is that when a country’s economy suffers, minorities suffer as well. Tolerance and inclusivity are undermined.”

The government must stress that the welcoming principles and legislation Britain had prior to Brexit remain in place. Andrej Mahecic, from the UNHCR, said “we will continue to rely on the UK’s strong support for humanitarian responses to refugee crises. Our work with the government on the UK’s asylum system and refugee resettlement schemes continues.”

The will from NGOs is there. The political will is less assured. In the aftermath of Brexit, the government must not concede to the darker side of the referendum debate.