Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, Diane Abbott, has claimed racists who want to see “less foreign-looking people on their streets” drove the Brexit vote, which “added another turn of the screw to rising racism”.
The close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also claimed that “people who talk Brexit” had “attacked and assaulted” ethnic minority voters and Eastern Europeans after the referendum.
More than 17 million people voted for Brexit in June, giving leaving the European Union (EU) the largest ever democratic mandate in British history.
“The people that complain about the freedom of movement will not be satisfied because what they really want is to see less foreign-looking people on their streets”, she ranted at a fringe event at the Labour party conference in Liverpool.
According to the Daily Mail, she added: “The Brexit vote and the Leave people winning seems to have given far too many people permission to racially abuse and attack people all over the country.
“People, not just East Europeans, but people of all colours, are being attacked and assaulted by people who talk about Brexit … There has been this upsurge after this Brexit vote in horrible, horrible attacks.”
Claims of a hate crime epidemic after the Brexit vote are based on one line taken from a single press release issued by the National Police Chief’s Council on June 27th. In the four days immediately after the vote, the document said reports of hate crimes had “risen 57 per cent”.
However, the statistic was in reference to 85 unverified online reports, with no supporting evidence. The same document also states that forces recorded “no major spikes in tensions” after the vote. In fact, prosecutions for hate crimes have actually fallen since June.
Despite this, speaking on BBC Daily Politics this morning, Mrs. Abbott doubled down of her claims.
She insisted, “you didn’t have this flurry of attacks on [Polish people] and Eastern Europeans”, before the Brexit vote, citing anecdotal evidence from a friend who claims to have been abused by people who said: “We voted for Brexit.”
When questioned, Mrs. Abbott added: “I’m not saying that all of them were motivated by [racism], but the evidence of the attacks suggests that some were.”
However, she also conceded that she agreed with many who voted to Leave, explaining: “I was eurosceptic about the economic and financial arrangements, but in the end, Remain was the right thing to do.”