Generation Brexit

New challenges for 'Little Britain'

Chiara Mila
Chiara Mila | 5 months ago | in Brexit and Multiculturalism

If multiculturalism was challenged and under scrutiny in the UK before Brexit, I think Brexit will contribute to its ultimate criticism as the policy that is hindering Britain’s growth and social cohesion. In a context of sheer paradox, the UK had been able to opt out from a number of EU directives and had its own arrangements with the EU, including imposing restrictions on EU citizens’ ability to claim benefits while on UK soil, however the entire pro-Brexit media campaign was conducted with the aim of making immigration (from the EU in particular, but the undertones regarded all immigrants) the main issue to be removed in order to allow British citizens to thrive and regain control over their borders. But what kind of British citizens represented the ‘native’ population, those entitled to remain on UK soil and not asked to ‘go back to where they came from’? Crucially, the narrative was build and reinforced around British identity being ‘white’, so much so that Britain’s multicultural identity was almost dismissed in favour of a white nationalism discourse that tends to exclude minorities from what it means to be ‘British’. The EU, with all its limitations and issue, should nevertheless be recognised as a stronghold for human rights and unity in diversity. To me it seems that the Brexit vote was used as a symbolic move away from a more diverse society, a society type that has undoubtedly – in my view – brought cultural and economic benefits to the UK. Brexit has made way for legitimising open criticism of the benefits of diversity and multiculturalism and for a sharp redefinition of British identity which intensifies the ‘fear of the different / foreigner’. This last worrying point should become a focus for public policy, that should look at restoring an idea of British society as an example of tolerance, integration and appreciation of minorities in the post-Brexit era of ‘Little Britain’.

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