Jon Snow, star anchor for publicly-owned Channel 4 News, has drawn criticism for appearing to racialise a protest in support of Brexit yesterday, claiming he had “never seen so many white people in one place”.
Snow, himself a white, upper-middle-class son of a Church of England bishop, made the controversial observation while closing out his on-the-ground coverage of a long day of protest against the Government, Members of Parliament, and the European Council coming together to delay Brexit, which was originally scheduled for 11 p.m. on March 29th, but has now been pushed to at least April or May, and may yet be postponed beyond 2019 or cancelled altogether.
The British people voted to Leave the European Union in June 2016, despite Remainers heavily outspending Leavers and receiving direct assistance from the Government of the day under David Cameron, almost three years ago.
Jon Snow on the pro-Brexit protests outside Parliament, "I have never seen so many white people in one place… it's an extraordinary story, there are people everywhere" pic.twitter.com/XC7ipXpViW
— Matthew Champion (@matthewchampion) March 29, 2019
“There are crowds rallying outside Downing Street. We’ve just got these pictures in which were taken nearby,” the presenter narrated, as Channel 4 cut to footage of protesters outside the gates which seal off the cul-de-sac where the official residences of the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer are located from the public.
“Police are now wearing riot gear. Police dogs are patrolling. The mood has changed.
“We cannot confirm whether any arrests have been made.
“It has been the most extraordinary day. A day which has seen — I’ve never seen so many white people in one place!” he exclaimed, seemingly horrified.
“It’s an extraordinary story — there are people everywhere, there are crowds everywhere.”
I have never seen so many PATRIOTS in one place.
No one tell Jon Snow… pic.twitter.com/6DcrqfPptw
— Amandeep SinghBhogal (@AmandeepBhogal) March 30, 2019
Snow’s comments were criticised by many members of the public, including Conservative Party activist and first-generation immigrant Amandeep Singh Bhogal, who posted pictures from a Brexit rally in Parliament Square captioned, “I have never seen so many PATRIOTS in one place.”
“Regardless of whether you voted Leave or Remain can we all agree @jonsnowC4 was wrong to bring people’s skin colour into the Brexit debate,” another observer added.
“It’s utterly irrelevant. People of all racial backgrounds voted for Brexit and Remain.”
I remember Jon Snow visiting a village fete here in Wiltshire, and expressing how surprised and appalled he was how few black faces there were. It revealed a lack of awareness of the ethnic composition of districts outside London. Wiltshire is 96.7% white whereas London is 59.8%.
— Guy Walters (@guywalters) March 30, 2019
Others questioned how likely it really was that Snow had “never seen so many white people in one place” before, considering he was born in 1947 when Britain’s visible ethnic minority population numbered only a few thousands.
He also spent much of his youth in boarding schools, one run by his bishop father, which were dominated by England’s predominantly white elite class.
— Mike Graham 🍾 (@Iromg) March 30, 2019
The broadcaster, married to a Zimbabwe-born health professional more than 25 years his junior, has been in trouble for appearing to be partisan before, reportedly joining in chants of “Fuck the Tories” at the open-air annual music festival in Glastonbury, Somerset, in 2017, where hard-left Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn gave a speech.
Channel 4 claimed they had reprimanded their anchor, telling the Huffington Post that he was “spoken to and reminded of his responsibilities around due impartiality”.
— Julia Hartley-Brewer (@JuliaHB1) March 30, 2019