A few days ago a friend of mine witnessed an angry confrontation between two men. One of them was foreign, and for that reason alone the other felt that he had every right to hurl verbal abuse and use language which clearly suggested that he felt he was superior in his environment solely because ‘This Is England’.
Fortunately the incident, which was a dispute over parking, didn’t lead to any physical violence, but it was one that added to the growing spate of attacks on the non-British population of the United Kingdom which have taken place over the past three months in the aftermath of the referendum that saw the people vote to leave the European Union.
The outcome of that vote appears to led a hateful minority to feel that they have a right to victimise immigrants in the most sickening ways possible. There have been murders, violent assaults, attacks on pregnant women and racist abuse among other things; the rise in such incidents only going to show that a section of British society feels that foreign residents have no business living in their country and are taking it upon themselves to harass them by any means possible.
Members of certain communities now live with the fear that they could be targeted in the near future. Ill feeling towards them hasn’t exactly been helped by the ongoing continuation of the migrant crisis and the growth of illegal people smuggling, but that is no excuse.
Immigration has been rife in the UK for over half a century, but in more recent times the numbers have increased, largely for the good of the country. The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) are partly responsible for fuelling resentment because of some of their deplorable propaganda campaigns, intended to scaremonger British citizens into believing that remaining in the EU would only serve to allow a greater influx of people from entering the country.
Indeed, scaremongering played a considerable part in the referendum campaign, on both sides of the debate. Along with the future of the economy, immigration was inevitably the subject which received the most coverage during a bruising few months which saw false claims bandied about left, right and centre, and numerous reminders from the likes of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson that voting to leave would mean that the UK would be able to control its borders.
The vote to leave the EU has had wide-reaching effects. How would it affect universities with regards to international student admissions? Would non-British people living off benefits suddenly become eligible for deportation? As for people who intend to move to the UK in the future, would they be forced to prove their credentials, in other words convince the authorities that they would make a worthy contribution to British society?
Three months on, there are still too many grey areas, but returning to the central theme of this piece, the scale of abuse that non-British people are currently suffering is just frightening. It makes myself and millions of others questioning whether our country is the fair, equal and harmonious society that it claims to be, while those from a foreign background are increasingly made to feel like outsiders.
It is very uncomfortable to see sections of society subjected to such horrific treatment by a despicable and discriminatory minority of people who are using the vote to leave the EU as a supposed excuse. Voting to leave was, in my opinion, a giant mistake, but the outpouring of abuse towards the non-British people is arguably the most critical consequence.