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Wanted: A racism-free post-Brexit Britain, says new coalition

A coalition of 20 campaign groups have launched a manifesto to tackle race equality in the UK in the aftermath of a spike in hate-related crimes after the 2016 EU referendum.

world Updated: May 22, 2017 15:58 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
File photo of EU and Union flags flying above Parliament Square in London on March 25, 2017.
File photo of EU and Union flags flying above Parliament Square in London on March 25, 2017.(Reuters)

A spike in hate-related crimes after the June 2016 EU referendum prompted a new coalition of 20 campaign groups to launch a manifesto on Monday to tackle race equality in the United Kingdom in employment, housing and criminal justice.

The “Manifesto for Race Equality in Britain” includes demands for a comprehensive government-wide race equality strategy, Brexit negotiations to be ”race equality-proofed” to safeguard rights protecting citizens against discrimination, and a new law prohibiting online hate that forces social media firms to take action.

The coalition includes Operation Black Vote (OBV), a non-partisan political campaigning organisation, and groups such as the Runnymede Trust, Race on the Agenda, Every Generation Media, Society of Black Lawyers, Race Equality Foundation and the Bernie Grant Trust.

As the June 8 mid-term election prompted by Brexit politics draws near, opinion polls suggest the gap between the ruling Conservatives and the opposition Labour is narrowing. The Conservatives, however, remains tipped to win comfortably.

A new analysis by the groups has found that seven of the top 10 swing constituencies have black and minority ethnic (BME) electorates significantly larger than the 2015 majority. Of the top 50 swing seats, 45 have BME electorates larger than the 2015 majority, and 96 of the top 200 marginal seats have BME electorates large enough to make the difference. 

The analysis adds that Labour could considerably reduce the Conservative majority by holding on to its share of BME voters. The Tories could seal a comprehensive victory by winning over more BME citizens, and the Lib Dems need to increase their appeal in diverse seats to have any hope of winning them back, OBV said.

OBV director Simon Woolley said: “Britain is at a crossroads on Brexit, immigration, and British identity. How these issues play out in this snap election will determine the country's direction for a generation. The key question is to what extent will BME communities be involved in this debate?”

Omar Khan, director of Runnymede Trust, said: “With post-Brexit Britain raising existential questions about who we are, we also need the next government to affirm that race equality is a core British value and that minorities won't see their rights and protections weakened.”