UK fallout

Luton Extremism

In the aftermath of the EU referendum on 23 June, I wrote a few reported features from different parts of the UK, talking to different communities.

For Politico Europe, I went to Luton, one of the few places in Britain where the “white British” are a minority and famed for both far right and Islamic extremism. Luton has a substantial ethnic minority population, yet voted in favour of Brexit. I spoke to local residents to find out why.

But in Luton, class concerns — cutting across the town’s disparate ethnic groups — may have played a more decisive role in driving the Leave vote. The vast majority of jobs on offer in Luton are low-skilled. Both white and Muslim Asian communities are worried by the wage depression caused by Eastern European migration.

For the New Statesman, I visited Bradford, another city with a substantial ethnic minority population and a history of racial tension. In this post-industrial northern town, unemployment and economic decline certainly played a role. (The clipping is below)

More often than not, young people in search of skilled work are forced to leave. “People who graduated with me in biomedical sciences are working in retail because the jobs aren’t there,” says Samayya Afzal, a recent graduate of the University of Bradford and a Remain campaigner. “It’s bleak. Bradford is my home – my family is here – but I can’t see a future here. It’s difficult to describe how that feels.”

For Al Jazeera, I interviewed members of Britain’s Roma community, an already vilified minority concerned about its future in the UK after the referendum result.

“Roma migrants tend to have the double whammy: they’re not just Eastern European migrants, they’re also Roma Eastern European migrants,” says Shay Clipson, an advocate with the National Alliance of Gypsy, Traveller, and Roma Women. “They may be Czech Roma, or Slovak Roma, but the other Czechs and Slovaks don’t particularly like them either. Many are here because they are escaping persecution in their countries of origin. They are not just here to make a living, they are here so that they can live,” says Clipson.

I’ve continued to report regularly on UK politics for Deutsche Welle, including this piece on Theresa May taking office, this on racism in the UK, this on hate crimes against Polish nationals, and coverage of this year’s party conferences.



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