It has been a month since Britain made the momentous decision to leave the EU. This one-month period has been strange, nothing big has really happened but people still wait in anticipation for the actual departure, right now we are sort of in a limbo stage. It seems as if the hype and hysteria that occurred after the initial result has now died down as people realise that leaving the EU will not solve all of Britain’s problems. Those who voted leave on the premise that it would reduce immigration are slowly coming to the realisation that the government will not be deporting all immigrants and anyone of colour how disappointed the racists must be.
Though none of the things that the leave campaign promised has come to fruition, absolutely none, some things have changed in the past month. For the first time that I can remember, MPs were bringing up the increase in racially motivated attacks in parliament during Prime ministers questions when white elites can identify and voice their opinions on hate crimes, then you know it’s a problem. People of colour know that racism has always existed in the UK and it not new, racism was just more covert, sly, systemic and behind closed doors. Whereas now we are seeing a shift towards more overt forms of racism, verbal and physical forms of abuse. It’s shocking to believe that we as a nation are regressing in terms of race relations instead of progressing towards a harmonious multicultural society. Yet since the leave vote these racists have gotten brave and come out from their closets to show their true feelings towards POC and immigrants.
For black people and generally anyone of colour who is from outside the EU, it is a slightly different situation as the EU referendum was not about the movement and citizenship of POC – just EU migrants. Yet racist attacks have increased against POC, though the referendum supposedly had nothing to do with racism. So, now we have a situation where some people expected the leave vote to equate to “removing all POC” from the UK. Now that is not happening, some people are taking matters into their own hands and literally abusing POC. To far right racists, if you are of any colour you shouldn’t be here and you need to leave, so it doesn’t even matter if you are an EU immigrant or an African migrant, if you aren’t ‘the right type of white’ Britain is not for you.
Aside from the far right racists, if you have a legitimate burgundy (British) passport then you are fine, you can chill, let a racist know that you are not going anywhere. (It goes without saying that if you are here illegally, good luck, this government is really on a witch-hunt to deport anyone they are suspicious of without hesitation.) Here is the irony though, many POC actually voted leave, because they disliked the “special treatment” of EU migrants in terms of the ease of access into the UK, benefits and housing. They believed that those from outside the EU should have that same ease in entering the UK because it so much harder for a non-EU migrant to get a visa or stay. This is what the leave campaign was preaching, that they want it to be equal access for all, if you have the skills then you should be allowed to come with no preferential treatment. This mantra clearly worked in convincing POC to vote leave.
Here is the joke though, the current MPs in government (not all, but most, let’s not lie to ourselves) do not want immigration, from the EU or outside the EU. If you are black and do not have that burgundy passport, life gets a bit more difficult for you. Theresa May wants to deport all international students after they finish studying without allowing them to find a job, she also wants migrants currently living in the UK to be earning a minimum of £35,000 a year in order for them to stay, these things were being discussed before Brexit anyway. So the POC who voted leave, you really played yourself and you non British passport holding friends, because once the government is able to restrict EU immigration, do you think that they will not come for non EU migrants next? The point of the vote was to restrict migration meaning that they will not make it easier for non-EU migrants, they will increase border controls/checks and it will be harder for people who want to work and live in the UK. If you have not realised by now – the leave campaign was based upon lies and exaggerations.
Brexit only amplified existing tensions and revealed the extent to which POC are not considered British, even if they have been born and raised here, have a British passport and speak perfect English. In summary Brexit will not change much for black people with a burgundy passport, for those without it may be harder to get that passport, remain in the UK or even bring over family.
-Author: Leonie Mills
Leonie Mills is third year international politics and security studies student at the University of Sheffield
See more of her work here: https://thoughtsofalionessblog.wordpress.com