Racism on rise in U.K. after Brexit, Labour warns

Joe Mayes

Communities are “divided and bruised” after Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and racism is on the rise, a senior Labour lawmaker warned.

Schoolchildren were racially abused in a west London district this week and many in her constituency feel “vulnerable” after the Brexit referendum, Seema Malhotra, one of the main opposition party’s team of Treasury spokespeople said at an event in the capital on Saturday.

“Someone shouted: Why are there only 10 white faces in this class? Why aren’t we educating the English?’” she said, citing a letter from a teacher in her electoral district about an incident on Wednesday. “Another went close up to the children and said: You lot are taking all our jobs. You’re the problem. You’re taking our jobs, you’re taking our land.”’

Malhotra represents the district of Feltham and Heston in the London borough of Hounslow, which voted by 51.1% to remain in the EU. She said the teacher hadn’t heard a comment like it “in three years.” Children age six were “crying and saying they would have to leave this country,” she said.

Vote Leave, the official group that backed Brexit, explicitly targeted concerns over immigration in the referendum campaign that saw Britain vote to quit the 28-nation bloc. Boris Johnson, their leading spokesman and the favorite to succeed David Cameron as prime minister, began backing away from that message the morning after the vote.

“I was personally devastated by the result on Thursday night,” Malhotra said. “The message of community cohesion that we send at this time is absolutely vital.”