“I am disturbed by the increase in hateful attacks in Britain aimed at the citizens of EU member states”. (Bohuslav Sobotka , Czech PM)
As the UK Government presses ahead with plans to name and shame companies which hire EU nationals, equally sinister is the Governments silence on recent spate of assaults, abuse and two killings of EU nationals. Post Brexit the number of assaults and abusive incidents against EU nationals rose by 58% although it now “just” 14% higher than the same period in the previous year (Source: The Independent). There may be some reasons for this, for example a greater willingness to report such crimes, however even taking that into account the trend remains shocking.
“The Czech government finds it unacceptable to see Czechs attacked because of their origin and being treated as second-class citizens,” Sobotka told May. “Therefore I asked the British prime minister … to let me know what measures her government will adopt to stop these hateful attacks.”
While assault, verbal and other forms of abuse are clearly unacceptable. What cannot be masked is that to date two people have been murdered from Poland and the Czech Republic. In both cases Brexit appears to be to blame, although in the case of the Czech national the Government moved quickly to dismiss the Brexit link. Despite there being no reason to deny it so quickly. The situation against EU nationals, in particular Poles and other Eastern Europeans is now so bad that both EU leaders the the Czech PM has even raised the matter, so despite official denials it is clear that others are not buying the UK Government’s excuses.
These sad attacks should be put in context. May has already refused to guarantee residency rights for EU nationals in the UK post Brexit and has so far refused to acknowledge the rise in attacks or guarantee the safety of EU nationals. May has however privately said that the attacks have no place in the UK – which given it was not said in public does not really go far enough. One can only imagine her Government is frightened of upsetting Tory, UKIP and BNP Brexit supporters who now make up their core vote. In essence her Government tacitly tolerates the violence and hate crimes in order to shore up it’s vote. It will certainly never be overly critical in public about them!
Sadly the level of hate before and during the Brexit referendum was entirely predictable. The debate started about keeping Eastern Europeans out of Britain, quickly moved to legitimate discussions on the laws and costs of the EU but in the final days returned to the thorny subject of immigration. There are no doubt many who voted for Brexit who are not racist and did so for their own reasons (which should be respected, as should the result) but sadly the racism genie is now well out of the bottle in the UK.