Springingtiger's Blog

Post Brexit Xenophobia (It isn’t really as prevalent as you may think!)

I know many decent ‘Leave’ voters who are opposed to racism and voted to leave the EU because they feel that it will restore to Britain control of her political decision making. They will argue that the ‘Vote Leave’ campaign was not xenophobic, nor were its calls for immigration controls, they may be right. However ‘Vote Leave’ was not the only campaign calling for Brexit and some of the campaigns were openly xenophobic even using pictures of non white refugees from Syria to attack the unrelated issue of free movement within the EU. In interview after interview we saw the ‘man (or woman) in the street railing against foreigners and again in the right wing press we were treated to unremitting scare tactics and the suggestion that remaining in the EU would cause us to be flooded with foreigners and make us prey to ‘Muslim terrorists’. Obviously the sensationalising of the issue of immigration by the media is to a great extent responsible for the perception that the ‘Leave campaign’ was racist. Unfair, but that is the impression given and decent ‘Leave’ voters find themselves unjustly tarred with the same brush.

Sadly I am seeing comments on social media from minority ethnic people who have lived here for many years sometimes all their lives who no longer feel secure in Britain. “…So my nationality, my ethnicity, and my place of birth are different. Home is here, and has been for over 50 years. For the first time in 20 odd years I’m not sure again whether ‘I belong to Glasgow and Glasgow belongs to me.’” If this is in comparatively welcoming Scotland you can imagine how people of ethnic minority feel further south. In Huntingdon Polish families have had cards reading ‘Leave the EU No more Polish Vermin’ put through their letter boxes. In Newcastle today demonstrators are out with a banner reading ‘Stop Immigration Start Repatriation’. Someone on Twitter remarked “I’m Indian/English who voted remain. Haven’t felt less British than I do now. Haven’t felt more like an ethnic minority.” In the Bristol Post we see ‘ Bristol UKIP politician tells Muslim “We don’t want you in our civilised country.”’ And as usual the anti Scottish racism found in tweets like ‘Really want to knock #Scotland out right now. Ugly fat spiteful ginger braveheart f*ckers Just go, nobody likes you! #EURefResults’.

It has been quite depressing researching this to see just how strong the perception of xenophobia is. People are scared. What is worse is the amount of evidence to support their fears. However I think it must be emphasised that while I found some horrible examples of English racism, there was a lot more commentary in the media suggesting xenophobia than the number of examples I found merited. I also think that if you compare the number of racists posting in social media with the number of ordinary citizens who are saying nothing and just going about their business it is a small minority. However it is a very vocal minority and people are justifiably anxious. Not all Brexiteers are racists, but enough are to have made racism a real issue again. Now that the English have won their Leave vote perhaps they should address the problem of racism before it becomes the problem it was in the eighties and before.


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