It’s been a strange watching Brexit unfold. I’ve had an outsider’s view here in Paris.
The French, as well as fellow expats from the US, New Zealand, India, have been incredulous asking: Why is Britain doing this? Why do you want to leave Europe? Isn’t that just crazy? What about the consequences?
We woke up on Friday 24 April, switched on the TV and watched in shock as the news slowly sunk in: the Leave campaign had won. We’re leaving the EU.
The immediate consequences? The economy is shafted, the future of the next generation is trashed and some people now think it’s ok to be a racist.
Racism on the rise
As one Leave voter summed up the issue:
“Each to your own I no one thing I don’t wanna bring my kids up living next to polish Paul and Turkish terry so everyone vote out peace.”
Sounds like a lot like racism to me.
I grew up in 1970s, England, in north-west London. A common refrain was, Paki Go Home! I don’t want that for my kids. I thought we’d left those days behind us.
Since the results came out there has been a surge in reported racist incidents and these are rising, and not only to recent immigrants.
Second generation immigrants, like myself, born and bred in Britain are being told to go home.
Home, born here love, this is my home, got as much right to be here as you!
Immigration, racism and bigotry
Fuelled the Leave campaign.
But what have immigrants done for us?
- European immigrants who arrived in the UK since 2000 have contributed £20bn to UK public finances between 2001 – 2011.
- Between 2001 – 2011 European immigrants from EU-15 countries contributed 64% more in taxes that they received in benefits
- Immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe ‘ascension countries’ A10 contributed 12% more than they received
- Immigrants who arrived since 2000 were 43% less likely to receive state benefits or tax credits and 7% less likely to live in social housing
- They are educated, in 2011, 25% of immigrants from A10 countries and 62% from EU15 countries have a university degree
Data from the Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society
These immigrants are educated, working and contributing billions to the economy. Surely that’s a good thing?
Go back a bit further, in 1972, the Ugandan Asians were expelled by Idi Ahmin, arrived on Britian’s shores, some with no more than a suitcase of clothes. But hard work, an enterprising attitude and an entrepreneurial spirit has led many to get to the top of their professions. (Sayeeda Warsi, Spectator blog)
Oh and my parents were immigrants – looking for a better and more peaceful life outside of a conflict zone. I am proud that.
19 Princelet Street
In Spitalfields there is a small house, which is a museum devoted to immigration and diversity.
This little house, 19 Princelet Street, has never been more important.
It was first home to the Ogier family, French Huguenots fleeing persecution, who prospered as silk weavers.
In the 19th century Jewish émigrés from Eastern Europe arrived. In 1869 a synagogue was built in the grounds of the house. Under the synagogue they created a place where people met, later this was where people came to fight intolerance and fascism.
Spitalfields is home to the Bangladeshi community, and more recently Somalis.
This racism has to stop.
What about the other politicians, potential, future leaders?
I don’t want my children growing up in a society built on hatred, bigotry, fear and ignorance, where the colour of their skin, their name or how they speak determines their life chances.
What I do know is my children’s future is a whole lot more uncertain.
Who do I have to thank for that?