Growing hostility towards the European Union (EU) from Britain’s ethnic minorities could swing June’s referendum in favour of Brexit.
Race equality activists admit they are surprised at the scale of anger about the EU from minority communities, raising questions as to the reliability of poll data that suggests a majority of black and Asian voters will vote to stay in the bloc.
Simon Woolley of Operation Black Vote told The Times there were two reasons for the hostility.
“One is a longstanding feeling that the European project has been anti-black — we’ve seen the emergence of far-right groups, some of them pretty nasty,” he said.
“Added to that is that many black people feel they’re competing for jobs with Eastern Europeans. The two things come together in the feeling among some that the ‘EU is really not right for us’.”
Mr Woolley also said he was taken aback by online responses to an article he had written advocating a “Remain” vote.
One comment said: “Mainland Europe is far and away more racist, and viciously so, than the people of this island.” Another called the EU a “white male club”, while another wrote of the “negative effect of mass immigration from Eastern Europe” on the job prospects of Britain’s minorities.
Breitbart London wrote last week about how British minorities are increasingly turning against mass immigration as they become fed up with the sheer number of people entering the country and the “something for nothing” culture they seem to bring.
“They’ve never paid into the system… When my father came, he never claimed a penny in benefits. If he was out of a job one week, he was in a job the next week,” said Satvinder, an Indian-born immigrant living in West Bromwich.
A report in the Financial Times found: “As of 2013, the last year for which full data exists, there were 6,000 Polish nationals in Sandwell, roughly on a par with the local Indian population. Since then, central Europeans have kept coming to a town already suffering from social and economic strains.”
One resident, St Lucian Octavia Carrasca, commented: “At the moment I feel we’re being abused. People are coming here and they’re getting things I never got.”
The responses are also backed up by findings from race relations think tank the Runnymede trust, which looked at how ethnic minorities view the immigration debate. Their report said:
“Many black and minority ethnic people are ambivalent about the benefits of the EU. They appear less likely to take advantage of free movement (very few move about for work and, arguably, feel less… ‘shared identity’ with others in Europe).
“Some view Europe in explicitly ethnic or racial terms, identifying Fortress Europe as a way of keeping out non-white immigrants while allowing significant levels of European migration.”
The report found that communities with roots in the Commonwealth were particularly unhappy that European migrants did not have to go through the same checks they did. It said:
“Long-settled migrants often feel they have had a difficult time in Britain or at least following their initial arrival; they then may see or think that newer migrants have had better or easier experiences.”