As the madness of the EU Referendum begins to die down, and you’ve eased off the Facebook rants and started speaking to your Brexit-voting Nan again, chances are that if you’re White-British, you haven’t noticed much change.
Despite worries that a vote for Brexit would have immediate financial consequences, it really hasn’t been as bad as some feared, and our economy is looking pretty good.
Most of us are going about our daily lives as normal, only being reminded of Brexit when we turn on the news and wonder whether we’ll ever actually leave.
Yet startling figures show a very different story for ethnic minorities – reported hate crimes have risen massively since the Brexit campaign.
In the two weeks following the referendum the British Transport Police had 78% more hate crime incidents than during the same period last year. Figures in Wales show reported hate crimes are up by 60%.
I can’t claim to know a thing about the economic consequences of leaving the EU, although the fact that 1,200 business leaders wanted to remain does speak volumes.
When Katie Price told a Channel 4 panel how confusing she found the referendum, for once I didn’t laugh but agreed completely.
But it seems the Brexit campaign wasn’t about economics or business, with a UN body recently criticising the campaign for creating prejudices and failing to condemn racist abuse. The racist attitudes have always been there but have now been justified by a campaign fuelled by hate and fear of people we see as different.
In Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, close to my hometown, police are calling for witnesses after posters were distributed reading “Leave the EU. No more Polish vermin.” The nearby district Fenland had one of the highest Brexit votes in the country (71.4%), and my mixed raced family has been far from welcomed in the area.
I feel lucky that death stares and the occasional racial slur are all my family have experienced
In contrast, Cambridge is just a stone’s throw away, but matched the London boroughs with its high Remain vote (73.8%) and is a place where I’ve never experienced animosity. Unsurprisingly, police statistics show that the rise of hate crime is more severe in areas that voted to leave.
I feel lucky that death stares and the occasional racial slur are all my family have experienced.
The Evening Standard recently interviewed a Hungarian woman, Erzsebet, who had moved from Budapest to Camden three years ago. After two young people broke into her home, urinated and told her and her husband it was “time for immigrants to go home” she felt forced to move back to Budapest.
The UN expressed concern that the Brexit campaign was creating division and a negative portrayal of immigrants, and after googling ‘hate crime’ you can certainly see why. The search brings up hundreds of stories like Erzsebet’s, with ethnic minorities who have lived in an area for years now being forced to move out because they no longer feel safe in their home.
No one can be sure of what impact leaving the EU will have on our country. But the hatred and division the referendum has stirred up are already affecting the lives of so many, and something must be done to reverse the mess the Brexit campaign has created.