Journalist Hafsa Kara-Mustapha argues that although the consequences of Brexit have been and will be profound, Britain’s minorities shouldn’t succumb to hysteria about the threat it poses to them.
A victor doesn’t leave his home to the jeers of an angry crowd. A victor celebrates his glorious victory with jubilation.
Yet, for all his talk of proud independence and his appeal to voters to make a historical choice, Boris Johnson’s demeanour, on the day of the referendum result on whether Britain should remain in the EU, was that of a broken man.
A man struggling to cope with the enormity of his role in changing the face of Britain, for the worse, many are now thinking.
By voting to leave the EU, Britons always knew it would lead to some uncertainty and turmoil on the financial markets. As it soon emerged, it’s keeping the country together, now that many nations are threatening to break away from the Union – that has become the subject of national alarm.
The entire campaign, marred as it was by racist rhetoric, did however appeal to the working classes, left on the side of the political process by years of austerity measures and increased contempt from the media.
The apathetic public, always accustomed to diligently accepting its ruling class diktat, took it upon itself this time to make a stand and request change, and change it obtained – in the form of a resigning premier, a crumbling currency, uncertain future and a political landscape in disarray.
Anti Brexit campaign
There appears to be coming from a media, widely supportive of a Britain in the EU, a campaign of punishment for the unruly plebs who chose to exit.
So soon had the result been announced that doomsday scenarios emerged describing a country on the brink of collapse.
One would think it had been turned into the Iraq or Libya Britain was involved in destroying, but as it happened the pound had risen on the back of a rumoured Remain victory on the day of voting, leading it to appear to have fallen to unparalleled depth after the result was announced.
However, it was not so much the result, surprising as it was, that was damaging as the management of the post-vote situation by a ruling elite that had once appeared in control and confident in the country’s future whatever the outcome.
Having predicted a victorious result for the pro Europe camp, no plan had been drawn out in the event of an exit, and Britain’s entire ruling establishment woke up looking like a bevy of deer caught in the proverbial headlights.
Cameron was exceptionally astute. He did the “decent” thing by resigning and passing on the cumbersome baton to his successor tasked with extracting Britain, and its 7,000 laws and regulations compiled over four decades, out of the EU.
As a result, Boris Johnson, once tipped to be the natural successor of Cameron, announced a week after the vote that the job he’d been eying for years, for which he refused to run for a third term as London mayor, and for which he was considered by all as “favourite”, was no longer for him and that he wouldn’t be looking to run for the much coveted job.
Ultimately, the financial situation can and will recover. Britain has a solid economy and remains incredibly attractive to many investors from the EU and outside, but what premier would want to go down in history books as the man or woman who turned Great Britain into Little England, literally.
Scotland has been adamant that its attachment to the EU was non-negotiable and will therefore call for another referendum on its independence.
Northern Ireland – once a proud bastion of Britishness – has actually revealed that it would prefer to be part of the wider more glamorous EU block than what by all accounts is a dwindling monarchy in disarray.
Welsh nationalism is on the rise which almost means it’s only a matter of time before Cornish separatists make their political move, a bit like the Kurds Britain supports in the Middle East but closer to home.
A mere century ago, the sun would never set on the British Empire, what a difference a century makes!
No doubt it’s this realisation that is forcing British politicians to delay activating the now infamous Article 50, which would in effect signal Britain’s formal exit from the EU bloc.
The referendum being only the expression of popular sentiment, it’s the Lisbon Treaty article that has the power to transform intent into action to withdraw.
Yet, as alarming scenarios continue to be depicted, many who supported Brexit are expressing regret. With reported racist attacks on the rise and crumbling financial markets, no one politician wants to press the exit button.
In that sense, the waiting game is where the implementation of Article 50 resides. The longer it takes, the more damaging the effects of ongoing uncertainty will become.
Start the process right away, like the rapid removal of the plaster, and the jolt will be sharp but brief. A slowed down exit means that the sterling’s continuous downward spiral will begin to impact consumers.
Disgruntled consumers may forcefully push for Brexit to be overturned.
Far right scaremongering
Already, the public is seriously split over a vote many are dismissing as racist. Focusing exclusively on the often racist undertone of the campaign, some pundits insist this was nothing more than a campaign of bigots, and that all 17.4m voters were motivated by the hatred of the “other”.
The London cosmopolitan elites accustomed to their privileges would rather curse the other, less educated compatriot, as racist then admit that its concerns are holidays, second homes, and dental treatments in the continent.
Talks of racist attacks have been reported on white Europeans told to go back to their country, a phrase many from visible minorities have taken to view as banter.
However, as one German woman is told she has to go, the mainstream media appears to finally take stock.
The situation is worrying enough that many politicians have come out to firmly denounce this alleged rise in racist attacks, even though firebombing mosques has been weekend sport for fascists for several years already.
We are told that racism and the anti immigration bashing is almost exclusive to this “nasty” campaign, yet for all the talk of “exceptionally racist Brexit” it was the normally more progressive Labour party that brought out campaign mugs during last year’s general election calling for a control on immigration.
And who could forget the Tories campaign in 2005, when former Conservative leader and son of refugees Michael Howard released the infamous “Are you thinking what we’re thinking” billboards, implying that his party is brave enough to tackle the “growing threat of immigration?”
As accusations of racism continue to abound, through social media essentially, it’s worth looking at the overall picture and find some solace in facts conveniently overlooked in favour of accentuated fear-mongering.
Nigel Farage, the now embarrassing face of UKIP, who promised to release some £350m pounds a week to the NHS but denied it only an hour after the Leave camp won, is now a figure of ridicule. He was, last year already at the General Election, unable to retain even his seat in parliament.
The BNP, which boasted in the early 1990s and up until a few years ago several council seats is now a footnote in history of small British farcical parties, and Britain First, a Facebook page, has been exposed for the racist fascist movement that it is, and will no doubt struggle to recover from Jo Cox’s murder.
While many described Cox’s assassination as the first in Britain at the hands of racist extremists, Mohamed Saleem’s family (the elderly man killed by a racist Ukrainian as he was leaving the mosque) will no doubt wonder why his death doesn’t get that epithet, as if somehow, the racism of 2013 is different to that of 2016.
Nevertheless, scaremongering has been a chosen tactic for the establishment to foster the current climate in which racism and Islamophobia are rampant. It is somewhat ironic that it is denouncing the very thing it so actively encouraged now that the future of Britain and its unity are at stake.
For ethnic minorities and Muslims in Britain one thing at least is comforting, now that even white people are told to go back to their countries, perhaps racism and bigotry will finally be taken seriously.