Millions of black and Asian votes are “up for grabs” in the Brexit referendum amid growing hostility towards the European Union from Britain’s ethnic minorities.
Race equality activists say they are surprised at the extent of anger about the EU driven by resentment over large-scale migration from Eastern Europe and support for neo-Nazi groups on the continent.
... Two factors were driving anti-EU feeling. “One is a longstanding feeling that the European project has been anti-black — we’ve seen the emergence of far-right groups, some of them pretty nasty,” he said. “Added to that is that many black people feel they’re competing for jobs with Eastern Europeans. The two things come together in the feeling among some that the ‘EU is really not right for us’.”
Mr Woolley, who believes that staying in the EU will strengthen the cause of racial equality, dismissed as fanciful claims that black people were losing to European migrants in the job market. He said that he was taken aback by online responses to an article he wrote advocating a vote to stay in. One comment read: “Mainland Europe is far and away more racist, and viciously so, than the people of this island.” Another described the EU as a “white male club” and one person wrote of the “negative effect of mass immigration from Eastern Europe” on the hopes of ethnic minorities in the UK.
The responses mirror the findings of research by Runnymede Trust, the race relations think tank, on how ethnic voters viewed the immigration debate. Its report said: “Many black and minority ethnic people are ambivalent about the benefits of the EU. They appear less likely to take advantage of free movement (very few move about for work and, arguably, feel less . . . ‘shared identity’ with others in Europe). Some view Europe in explicitly ethnic or racial terms, identifying Fortress Europe as a way of keeping out non-white immigrants while allowing significant levels of European migration.”
The researchers found unhappiness among communities with roots in the Commonwealth that white European migrants did not face the same difficulties with the immigration system as they did. The report said: “Long-settled migrants often feel they have had a difficult time in Britain or at least following their initial arrival; they then may see or think that newer migrants have had better or easier experiences.”Source (£)