I am not one for political statements and when I started this blog I said I wouldn’t do too much politics but I feel I have to write about my experiences over the past few weeks. I have had to return to the UK to fix my passport and get new visa’s for traveling (My home town’s Cathedral is in the picture). I haven’t been back since the referendum last year on Brexit, I didn’t think things would have changed much as basically the whole process hasn’t actually happened yet. What I have found thought whilst I was here is that people’s attitudes seem to have changed. It is quite disturbing and makes me feel sorry for the country and fear for its future.
Firstly, people are far more open about their prejudices than they used to be. Sure many people would harbor grudges against foreigners or immigrants but they wouldn’t openly voice them. 2 people during my stay, of whom are friends of mine were much more open about the prejudices whilst out in public, walking around and in a coffee shop. Saying things like “There are a lot of foreigners around here now” and “Too many foreigners live and work here, you hardly hear English anymore” These people wouldn’t have uttered such words before, but now they were almost saying things as a badge of honor, I find this quite disturbing to say the least. It seems the leave vote in the Brexit referendum last June has given these people the confidence to speak their prejudices in public, a very sad side effect.
I think my biggest shock came when I was queuing at the passport office. Surrounded by strangers of course, the person behind me just decided to start up a conversation with me, but not a normal conversation. His first words were “I can’t believe the type of people who work here” There was a Muslim woman on reception in a head scarf and prior to his conversation opener another Muslim lady had walked past. He went on to say “I’m sure they work here so they can get all their cousins illegal passports” I didn’t say a thing and ignored him, the guy in front of me however, turned around and smirked acknowledging agreement. I find this amazing, that this guy can not only start a conversation with a complete stranger but actually think that it is acceptable to voice these opinions within earshot of the woman he was referring to. Of course this could be an isolated case and who is to say this man wouldn’t have said those things anyway irrespective of the Brexit vote last year. When you add up this and the now freedom my friends seem to speak about immigration, I think the vote has in some way given these types of views an amount of acceptability. Sadly, I feel this is because of the whole leave campaign that was based on racism and immigration. It is no surprise that since the referendum Brexit result people feel they can be more open about their prejudices.
What people have failed to realize is that all the benefits they thought why would have after the vote have not materialized yet and there is no guarantee that they will when Britain finally does leave the EU. Those expecting a cut back in immigration are going to be disappointed, I’m sure there won’t be many migrants heading home soon. Furthermore, what has happened for fact is the pound has fallen on average by 12% and shows no sign of improving, this has caused rising costs for businesses that import goods in their manufacture and will hit inflation soon. So those that voted to leave the EU last June expecting immigrants to leave the country and more money to be spent on the national economy have instead been hit with higher costs for their annual summer holidays and soon higher inflation which will reduce their wages in real terms. Brexit has meant higher costs for ordinary people, we will see how this works out over the next few years I’m sure but I hope people’s attitudes change. Psychologically Brexit has empowered people to be open about their prejudices and has somehow legitimized the views some of them have always held, a very sad state of affairs.