Brexit Opinion Politics

Britain, Brexit and nationalism: remembering our history

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The EU referendum was strange for Britain. Not due to the result, but the campaigns and aftermath. A spike in hate crime dovetails with leaving the EU, allowing the far right claim victory. While Nigel Farage may wish to claim credit – we must remember Nick Griffin and the British National Party (BNP). In ensuring immigration was a mainstream political issue, the BNP allowed UKIP to appear both legitimate and moderate.

Brexit was not their victory, we cannot let them own it – nor what it is to be British.

‘British values’

An issue upon which consensus emerged has appeared: immigration is a problem. Were this limited to the Conservatives and UKIP it would be unremarkable, but Labour MPs are engaging. Choosing to interpret the result as a victory for ‘patriotism’ and a death knell for the multicultural Britain which I was born of.

Rather than analyse the motivations, they have bowed to the easiest available interpretation. Immigration is a ‘real issue’ that needs a solution. The 52% a homogenous bloc to Westminster – racist and bigoted, incapable of being reasoned with.

After failing to inspire the public with expertise, MPs have given up.

The British Empire

Patriots and internationalists alike must recognise British history. It is not of peace and trade, but war and conquest. Brutal repressions of indigenous people and extermination of ‘natives’. Any pride found in Britain cannot be here; yet MPs appear ready to forget. Refusing to acknowledge actions perpetrated under the Union Jack which led to the Britain we enjoy today.

The scramble for Africa, to manifest destiny, Britain has much to answer for. Vladimir Putin’s annexation of the Crimea was condemned; then as quickly forgotten or ignored. Britain must remember its history – now more than ever.

When politicians wage war, it’s the poor who suffer

Leave voters were promised a better tomorrow, but that vision will never be realised. There is no £350 million in NHS funding; a decline in funding for areas which voted leave will be the real legacy. While EU subsidies help Wales, they are insufficient for the lives of workers. It isn’t that they do not benefit from being in the EU, but that the effects are not tangible. This is true of most areas with low immigration, but high levels of poverty.

Wales, the North of England and other towns forgotten by the gentrification. They see what I have in Brixton, from a different perspective: an increase in wealth flowing in, but not to the benefit of the inhabitants. Those who have built lives in ‘up and coming’ areas priced out. New developments don’t place residents needs at the forefront, but signal a social cleansing of undesirables.

Forgotten Britain

12.6% of the public voted for UKIP in 2015, but the party are being allowed to claim victory. If Brexit were UKIP’s, about 40% of their vote is missing. Were Brexit the work of bigots, they seem to forget their intent come election night.

Vote leave was born of frustration from neglected communities and their anger is completely justified. The target? Less so. Farage banged the anti-immigration gong, but politicians did not share a stage with him.

So the question must be asked, why are we allowing Brexit to appear a triumph for the right? Boris Johnson’s bus lied, but offered a positive message – one of hope, not fear.

Remembering Britain

The legacy of Brexit cannot be xenophobia, but to ensure that we must embrace it. Regardless of your vote, we should acknowledge the fears in society leading us out of the EU. Not only fears, but realities; the circumstances that many honest, engaged and hard working people in Britain are confronted with daily.

Lack of investment in infrastructure, a self-serving economy and a party that would like nothing more to avoid their discussion. There is every reason for Conservatives to pander to this narrative. It allows them to pursue their ideal, a shrinking of the state and public investment.

‘Foreigners’ are the perfect scapegoat, but the suffering of one group should not be transferred to another. We do not wear poppies to remember simply those born on these shores; we wear them to remember the fallen. Those who never stood to benefit from conflict, but gave their lives nonetheless.

Brexit should not be fought, but should be understood. For too long Britain has failed its ‘subjects’, both domestically and abroad.

This is not the first Brexit

My great-grandfather fought in WWI for Britain; in the Ghana Regiment. The British Gold Coast, a nation my father was born into, that until 1957 was British. His sacrifice is worth no less than that of any ‘native’ Briton, it was made in the name of the same cause.

I’ve been told I cannot be British, “A cat born in a stable is not a horse”, but I am. That is something no one can take from me; no matter the affront they feel. I am a product of the struggles throughout history, not perpetrated in my name, nor yours – but that of Britain.

Brexit will restore ‘sovereignty’ – but it cannot whitewash history. We owe it to every individual who struggled in the name of queen, country or empire to remember them. Over the last century, they have sacrificed as much as ‘indigenous’ Brits to allow Brexit – all via the tranquility of a ballot box.

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