Racism “remains” an issue in Tory leadership contest

ANDY RAIN

Members of the right wing nationalist 'Britain First' group protest as tens of thousands of people march through central London during a 'Refugees Welcome' protest in London, Britain, 19 March 2016. People protested around the world as part of the UN anti-racism day, for greater rights for migrants and refugees.

London is experiencing three hate crimes an hour since the referendum


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London’s Metropolitan reports 599 race hate-crime incidents from the aftermath of the EU referendum on June 24th until July 2nd, The Independent Reports.

The association of heightened racial tension with the campaign was beautifully summarized by the creator of Harry Potter, J.K Rowlings, days before the referendum:

“I’m not an expert on much, but I do know how to create a monster. (….)

They cast themselves as our champions, flatter us with tales of who we are or could be, sell us rose-tinted memories of the past and draw frightening pictures of the perils that lie ahead if we pick the wrong heroes. Nevertheless, the tales we have been told during this referendum have been uglier than any I can remember in my lifetime. If anyone has enjoyed this referendum, it can only be those hoping for greater personal power at the end of it.”

Rise of hate crime

03_Racist attacks

According to London’s Metropolitan Police, since the referendum, there are 67 hate crime reports a day compared to 44 prior to the referendum, The Independent reports.

The period leading to the referendum was also tense due the emphasis placed on immigration by the Leave and particularly the Ukip-led Out campaign. A 30-years old Polish man suffered significant injuries in Somerset, ending up in hospital. The racial assault took place in the aftermath of the referendum of on June 24; he was kicked and punched while the two men kept asking whether he speaks English. Avon and Somerset Police are appealing for witnesses, while they also report 100% increase in racist crime.

The online site True Vision reported 331 racial crime incidents from the 23 to the 29th of June. The Metropolitan Police are still investigating vandalism against the Polish and Social Cultural Association in Huntington on Sunday the 26th of June, three days after the referendum. The premises were painted with racist graffiti, while people received cards calling on people to leave Britain.

 

04_Leave

Political responsibility

On the 20th of June, the former chair of the Conservative Party Baroness Warsi stopped backing the Leave campaign because of the “lies and hate” spread the Brexit movement, The Guardian reported.

Speaking on BBC’s Radio 4 she said the following: “Why is it people like me, instinctively Eurosceptic who feel the EU needs reform feel they now have to leave leave? Because day after day what are we hearing? The refugees are coming, the rapists are coming, the Turks are coming.

On Monday after the Referendum, David Cameron condemned the “despicable” xenophobic abuse following a 57% rise in reported incidents. He had to, as the Polish Embassy, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan were speaking about the need to condemn racial violence. But, renouncing racism does not mean taking the political responsibility to oppose it.

Instrumental EU citizens

EU nationals are being talked about as luggage and bargaining chips.

On Sunday, July 3rd, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon challenged Prime Minister David Cameron and his potential successors to guarantee EU residents already in the U.K were not under threat.

“I am (…) seeking immediate guarantees from the Prime Minister, and all Conservative leadership candidates, that the residency status and the other existing rights of the 173,000 EU nationals living in Scotland will remain unchanged, now or in the future.”

Prime Minister Cameron indeed reassured EU citizens that there will be no “immediate” change in their circumstances, but made clear that their fate would be subject to negotiation in Brexit talks.

This was precisely the line of his likely successor Theresa May. She told the Evening Standard on Tuesday that she refused to guarantee EU nationals’ rights in the U.K for as long as she did not have equivalent guarantees for British “ex-pats.”

Her rival Stephen Crabb criticized her, telling The Times that EU nationals living in the UK must not be forced into a post-Brexit “Checkpoint Charlie” situation.

Her main rival and prominent Leave campaigner, Andrea Leadsom, is still promising to end the free movement of EU migrants, but she is also criticizing Theresa May for failing to guarantee the rights of EU nationals already living in Britain.

The point is that the Leave campaign won by investing on the EU migration issue. In a contest for the unity of the party, EU nationals are objectified; after all, they don’t get to vote.

(The Guardian, The Independent, Telegraph, BBC, The Times)

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