Spate of racist attacks blamed on Brexit vote
The vote for Brexit has been blamed for a spate of racist attacks over the weekend – including “no more Polish vermin” cards posted through letter boxes and allegedly racist graffiti daubed across a Polish cultural centre.
Baroness Warsi suggested that the “divisive and xenophobic” Leave campaign bore responsibility for the “problems on our street”, adding that a series of “really disturbing” hate crimes had taken place since the vote for Brexit.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary were investigating reports that laminated signs reading “Leave the EU – no more Polish vermin” had been posted to members of the Polish community in Huntingdon.
Detective Superintendent Martin Brunning said: “The production and distribution of this and any other similar material is committing the crime of inciting racial hatred,” adding that it carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.
The Polish President’s spokesman said the posters were “pure racism” and demanded that Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage condemn “this outrageous barbarity”.
Meanwhile, suspected racist graffiti was daubed across the front entrance of the Polish Social and Cultural Association (POSK) in Hammersmith, west London.
The Metropolitan police said they were called to the cultural centre on Sunday morning to investigate an “allegedly racially motivated criminal damage” and that inquiries are ongoing.
Neither POSK nor the police would confirm the content of the message, which has since been washed off.
Greg Hands MP, chief secretary to the Treasury and MP for Hammersmith and Fulham wrote on Twitter: “Let us all say it loud and clear that Poles are incredibly welcome in the UK and the word ‘Solidarity’ never felt more appropriate.”
Baroness Warsi, who switched from backing Leave to Remain citing the Brexit camp’s “lies and hate”, called on leaders of the Leave campaign to “come out and say that the campaigning was divisive and was xenophobic and give a commitment that future campaigning and the way that they intend to run this country will be united, will make people from all backgrounds feel like they belong”.
She told Sky news: “I’ve spent most of the weekend talking to organisations, individuals and activists who work in the area of race hate crime, who monitor hate crime.
“They have shown some really disturbing early results from people being stopped in the street and saying look, we voted Leave, it’s time for you to leave”.
The former chairwoman of the Conservative Party added: “The atmosphere on the street is not good.”
David Olusoga, a broadcaster and historian specialising in British colonialsim, tweeted a picture of a National Front protest in central Newcastle on Saturday afternoon showing demonstrators waving a banner which read: “Stop immigration, start repatriation”.
His picture with the caption “My home town of Newcastle. This afternoon. I feel like I am back in the 1980s” was retweeted thousands of times.
“I’ve never had a day of so many people telling me to go back to Africa,” Mr Olusoga told The Telegraph.
“There are those who have seen this [vote] as legitimising views they have long held but have previously been more cautious about expressing. I think now a lot of people feel emboldened.”
Max Fras, a 34-year-old consultant, said that while queueing in Tesco in Gloucester on Saturday a man became agitated and started shouting: “This is England, foreigners have 48 hours to f**k right off. Who is foreign here? Anyone foreign?”
Fras, who moved from Poland to the UK 12 years ago, said the experience was “very unpleasant”.
Stephanie Yeboah, 27, said that while on her way to work at an advertising firm on Great Portland Street on Friday morning, a group of young men shouted at her “make Britain white again”.
“They were waving British flags and shouting at passersby who weren’t white,” said Miss Yeboah, whose grandparents came to the UK from Ghana to study. “It made me feel very uneasy.”