Brexit Hate Crime Spike Encouraged By Politicians’ Referendum Rhetoric, UN Body Says

Politicians’ “divisive, anti-immigrant and xenophobic” EU referendum rhetoric helped cause the hate crime spike after the Brexit vote, a UN body has said.

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said in its report that politicians “not only failed to condemn it but also created and entrenched prejudices” during the “passionate” fight over whether Britain should leave the EU.

The campaign culminated in Britain voting for Brexit on June 23 and stoked “racism and xenophobia”, the report said.

Between June 16 and 30, 3,198 hate crimes were reported, 42% more than were reported in the same period in 2015.

The highest number of hate crimes was reported on June 25, the day after the result was declared, when 289 reports were made.

In Cambridgeshire, cards saying “no more Polish vermin” were distributed outside schools and homes in the days after the referendum result.

The report said: “The committee is seriously concerned at the sharp increase in the number of racist hate crimes especially in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in the weeks prior to and following the referendum on the membership of the European Union.

“In particular, the committee is deeply concerned that the referendum campaign was marked by divisive, anti-immigrant and xenophobic rhetoric, and that many politicians and prominent political figures not only failed to condemn it, but also created and entrenched prejudices, thereby emboldening individuals to carry out acts of intimidation and hate towards ethnic or ethno-religious minority communities and people who are visibly different.”

 The UN report also said that the likely underreporting of hate crime meant “a large number” of the offences were unpunished.

It added: “The committee remains concerned that despite the recent increase in the reporting of hate crimes, the problem of underreporting persists, and the gap between reported cases and successful prosecution remains significant.

“As a result, a large number of racist hate crimes seem to go unpunished.”

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