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How Brexit Paints Us All As Racists

“We’ll miss you very much when you leave,” was one of the things written on the Christmas card from my bosses at work, followed by, “such a shame that Brexit is nearly upon us!”

Even though I’m not leaving my job in Germany because of Brexit by any means, the reminder that it is going to take place is still disheartening for me as someone who voted to Remain, especially because I can imagine how the whole Brexit ordeal must look from the outside: a tiny island nation with its brain stuck in its colonial past has decided that it doesn’t want or need to be allied with the rest of Europe. Of course there are political and economic and legal aspects to it, but taking the situation on face value, which most people do, the separatist intentions are obvious.

I worry, both for the myself and the vast majority of Brits who aren’t racist: do they think that we believe we’re too good for them now?

Disclaimer: I am not a ‘Remoaner’ (a lovely new term often tossed around on Facebook referring to people who are very vocal about their anti-Brexit views and ‘moan’ about the result) by any stretch. At this point, the main emotion I have in regards to Britain leaving the E.U. is resignation. However, something to which I don’t want to be resigned is the growing sentiment that Britain is somehow different to other nations, perhaps a little better, and therefore should be separate.

After 52% of British voters decided that we should leave the European Union, the proportion of xenophobic hate crimes almost rose to match it. This definitely doesn’t mean that every person who voted Leave is racist, but it shows that the Leave campaign’s focus on ‘cutting immigration’ legitimises the racist rhetoric that now plagues Britain’s streets, such as “British jobs for British people” and “Send them home” . In short, the small percentage of actual racists now feel legitimised and supported in discriminating against those who they now feel have no place in their country. Maybe I enjoy reading between the lines too much, but the overall sentiment I get from this is that Britain is something special, and that our special culture and way of life must be protected from the multiculturalism that affects most developed nations today. Is it racist to be proud of being British? Of course not! But is it uncomfortable to hear about people wanting to forcibly expel Poles from Britain because “we’re taking our country back”? Incredibly.

So when Germans ask me about Brexit and I quickly explain that I voted Remain, I worry, both for the Remainers and for that vast majority of Leavers who aren’t racist: do they think that we believe we’re too good for them now?

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