It is wrong to say that referendum result was victory for xenophobia

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 July, 2016, 3:09pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 July, 2016, 11:02pm

The report on expatriate Britons’ concerns that the UK has become “intolerant” was one-sided and over-emotional (“Giving up on Brexit”, July 9).

The people interviewed have a right to their views, but I seriously doubt that Britain has “cut itself off” or that its people have become hostile to foreigners. Agreed, there is a certain tension in the country, in fact, all over the world where Britons have gathered, feelings have run high, as the side that fervently expected victory has had to adjust to a loss, and seeks to attribute blame.

Many in politics, business, academia and the media who disagree with the referendum result seek to smear it. Without declaring their own interests – often EU funding – they decry the result as a “victory for xenophobia”, and describe Leave voters as racist, uneducated thugs. By this means, they attempt to reject and discredit the result, question its validity and even demand a re-run.

Britons are good, tolerant people and any attempt to label them otherwise is disingenuous. Surely, a huge volume of the “five-fold increase” in “hate crimes” refers mostly to Twitter-spats and childish complaints to the police, which they are duty-bound to record.

Earlier this month, singer Charlotte Church tweeted a stream of expletives towards [outgoing leader of the UK Independence Party] Nigel Farage, yet when a torrent of vile abuse was returned, she made a report to police.

Currently, there is aggression, intemperance and childishness on both sides, yet just as former chancellor George Osborne was false and foolish in talking down the British economy, those who talk down British society do the nation an equal disservice. I seriously doubt that Britain has become racist. Those pushing the “xenophobia meme’” have ignored the fact that Birmingham and the West Midlands, which has a 43 per cent non-white population, voted “out” by almost 60 per cent.

The negativity of group-thinkers bleating about their future being stolen has been painfully embarrassing. One hundred years ago, a generation really did have their future stolen – on the fields of Picardy and Flanders. Bob Geldof openly scorned his generation for being selfish and uncaring, completely forgetting who it was who gave funds, time and energy to his “feed the world” campaigns.

Time should heal differences, as I predict that life – and the economy – will proceed normally; but those unhappy with the result must find a way to be more positive, mature and rational.

James Walker, Jardine’s Lookout