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UK is sitting on a racial tinder box: poll

As per BBC poll's startling revelations, almost two-thirds of people in Britain believe race relations are so poor that they are likely to spill into violence any moment.

world Updated: Apr 18, 2008 12:03 IST

Britain is sitting on a racial tinder box, according to a BBC poll that reveals that most Britons believe that race relations are so poor that they are likely to spill into violence any moment.

Almost two-thirds of people in Britain fear the impact of poor race relations, and most believe that the country has too many immigrants.

Half of those polled wanted foreigners to be encouraged to leave the country. The poll also revealed that the proportion of people describing themselves as "racially prejudiced" was down to 20 per cent, compared with 24 per cent in 2005.

Britain's last serious race riots occurred in Oldham and Burnley in north England in 2001, when violent clashes erupted between white and Asian youths. Since then there has been an uneasy calm in several inner city areas across England.

Describing the findings as 'alarming', Equality and Human Rights Commission head Trevor Phillips told BBC News: "What worries me is if that friction starts to catch fire - if people do genuinely believe it's going to catch fire then we're in trouble.

"This finding may reflect not what is happening today but the story that's been told of the last 40 years - that if you get people of different kinds together then eventually there's going to be trouble."

The survey was commissioned to mark the 40th anniversary of Enoch Powell's infamous "rivers of blood" speech, in which he described the indigenous population's "sense of alarm and resentment" over immigration.