Following the Brexit referendum, immigrants in the UK began reporting that they faced discrimination and outright hostility. Numerous victims claim that undisguised racism, xenophobia and open hostility towards them began spreading across Great Britain. The hatred is on the streets, on public transportation systems and in numerous bars and cafes. Even immigrant children that started attending local schools are advised to pack up and leave. Mysterious leaflets are circulating in migrant communities that demand them to leave the UK. It doesn’t get any clearer than the words “Get out of our country!” printed on a sheet of paper.
An ever growing number of crimes against migrants after the referendum on the UK status has been reported to local enforcement agencies. The Guardian would note:
The 42% rise in incidents being reported to police amounted to an increase of 915 reports compared with the same time last year. The real figures could be higher, with past studies suggesting just one in four hate crimes are reported to police. A total of 289 offences were recorded on 25 June, the first full day after the referendum result was announced.
At the same time the real numbers may be much higher since, according to statistics, only one in four incidents is being reported to the police. It’s reported that police have witnessed spikes in hate crimes following events such as Israel’s military actions in Gaza, which saw a rise in the targeting of Jews in Britain, and the terrorist murder of Lee Rigby, which led to a rise in Islamophobic attacks.
But those groups are not the only ones to suffer from the xenophobic mood in the UK today, since people from different EU countries, especially from Eastern European countries such as the Baltic states and Poland are facing direct threats and discrimination. Though nominally they are received as equal citizens of the EU, they are perceived as “pesky aliens” willing to work for pennies, thereby undermining the local labor market.
It’s reported that Mark Hamilton, head of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), said: “I believe the referendum debate has led to an increase in reporting of hate crime. ” He acknowledged that offences were mainly harassment and threats of a racist nature, directed against “visible minorities” as well as people from Eastern Europe.
Latvian Member of the European Parliament, Robert Zile has stressed the fact that the British population despises emigrants from the Baltic states and Poland in an interview with the Latvijas Avize newspaper. He stressed the fact that those Baltic citizens that are living in the UK have always been regarded as a free flow of cheap labor that faces discrimination in the UK on a daily basis. According to the MEP, those UK residents that supported Brexit now want to choose what migrants should be allowed into Great Britain, and, of course, Baltic and Polish citizens won’t be on the list.
The xenophobic moods of the British population have become a major concern of the Latvian Ambassador to the UK Andris Teikmanis, who has stressed the fact that the Latvian embassy in London is receiving a string of complaints from Latvian citizens who are being regularly insulted by certain members of the UK population. The ambassador has even been forced to file a protest to the British Foreign Office.
The Lithuanian press has been widely covering the case in Manchester, where twelve natives of that country were assaulted. Lithuanian Member of the European Parliament and the chairman of the Lithuanian Coalition of the Lithuanian Labour Party Valentinas Mazuronis has even turned to the Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius demanding he somehow influence the situation .
The MEP claims that the radical and nationalist sentiments have intensified after the Brexit referendum in the UK, when native British have started threatening Lithuanian immigrants, the total number of which surpasses more than 200,000 people.
However, migrants from Baltic states are not the only ones suffering in this situation. Various media sources have been circulating reports that a middle-aged British woman forced a young Polish girl with a small child off the bus, while in other cases East Europeans were not allowed to enter the subway since members of the local population were assaulting them, while shouting “go live in your own states!”
The Republic of Poland’s embassy in London issued the following official statement:
“We are shocked and deeply concerned by the recent incidents of xenophobic violence directed against the Polish community and other residents of the UK migrants.The embassy is in contact with the relevant agencies, and the local police are investigating two of the most well-known case, registered in the London borough of Hammersmith and Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.”
According to The Guardian, Polish diplomats were outraged by anti-Polish nationalist graffiti that was drawn at the entrance of the Polish Social and Cultural Association in west London. And the list of incidents goes on, for example, in Cambridgeshire police are investigating reports about racist messages being dropped in the mailboxes of local residents. Moreover, it’s been announced that Newcastle ultras have been waving a banner “Stop immigration. Begin Repatriation.”
The latest string of xenophobic events in the UK shows that the referendum on withdrawal from the EU has unleashed a flood of hatred towards migrants from Eastern Europe that has been contained for all these years. The proud Baltic people and the Polish who’ve been working for mere pennies, it turns out, were barely tolerated. Polish and Baltic communities are being harassed with leaflets that demand them to leave immediately. People are being stopped in the streets and are being demanded to leave England. Local law enforcement agencies have even found themselves compelled to strengthen patrols in areas densely populated by Polish immigrants.
It seems that the spread of xenophobia will soon spill over into other states, including Poland and the Baltic countries. After all, when those migrants who are now residing in the UK are forced to return home, they will hardly tolerate those massive numbers of Ukrainian migrants that reside in Poland and the Baltic States, stealing jobs from them.
In short, numerous people in the coming years will have to live in an atmosphere of hostility in the EU, since the migrant flows from the Middle East and Africa will be aggravated further by the flow of European migrants, including those from the Baltic states and Poland. This is the result of the unification process of nations into the “one European friendly family” that has allegedly been pursued by European politicians.
Martin Berger is a freelance journalist and geopolitical analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”