With the upcoming EU referendum, once more a darker side to Britain has clearly begun to show its head. On the back of the rising terrorist threats of the twenty-first century and the subsequent opposition many of the West have thereby adopted against other races and faiths, it seems Britain has become filled with racist bigotry and uninformed scare-mongering propaganda. Fuelled by many parts of the media, especially a number of newspapers which won’t be mentioned here (although a quick aside to appreciate the centre of our solar system), there is an alarming number of Britons avidly against any and all forms of immigration.
Parties such as UKIP and groups like the EDL have quickly preyed upon such underlying beliefs, as was apparent in the results of the 2010 general election. Such beliefs have surfaced once more in light of the upcoming referendum, therefore in light of this I would like to address in this post something which has been agitating me for some time, which likewise forms the reasoning behind a number of people voting to leave the European Union on the 23rd of June.
As a history student I am not unknown to the necessity to consider arguments from both sides. To this end I have done my fair share of research into both of the EU referendum campaigns, and have to say I am deeply disappointed with the majority of arguments to leave. Once again, a decision which should be based predominantly upon economic and political factors has been poisoned by so many against immigration and the integration of other cultures into the United Kingdom.
The world has changed. It’s a fact that is apparent and yet which a number of people seem unable to accept. With modern transport, visa systems and job opportunities in some form or another, it is now remarkably possible for people of any culture to travel the majority of the world to live and work. We are in a cosmopolitan age, one in which different people of the entire world can live alongside each other in thriving countries such as Britain, America, Germany and other leading powers. To many, including myself, this is a wonderful thing. In my time at university I have met and befriended people from all backgrounds and nationalities, learning of various cultures and learning how to better my own. For some however, this is not.
A frightening number consider such culture clashes as an abhorrent attack on Britain, believing that the country faces the threat of losing its own nationality in the face of immigrant tides. Language appears to be a huge barrier concerning this, a number of people heavily suspicious and wary of others speaking in a tongue they cannot understand. The fact English has become one of the widest spoken second languages in the world proves to be the cause of such an issue. It has led to idleness among the citizens of Britain (something I too am guilty of), all too aware that wherever we go we will be able to communicate using our own native tongue. Unfortunately this has resulted in some becoming suspicious of the fact they cannot understand the speech of other individuals sharing their own private words. To this however, there really are only two options: either learn the other language or simply accept it.
Where this suspicion continues is in another belief that the government is spending money on others which could be spent on its own citizens. Alongside the uncharitable and somewhat selfish nature of such a view, owing to a certain degree of self-entitlement, it must be questioned to what extent such wealth is actually needed among those who feel wrongly exempted. The money the government gives in overseas aid can be life-changing. For many it offers homes, food and water and other amenities taken for granted by our consumerist world. I’m sorry that some may be angry that their taxes are partly supporting others outside of their country, but it must be questioned how this would be spent if such wealth was dispersed here? A new television? A second holiday? Surely such funds are better suited in aid, rather than relieving us Britons ever so slightly in our annual taxes. Sadly, the rise of immigration has indeed also seen such accusations, with the influx of various people (who might I emphasise actually bolster the economy with trade and taxation), being considered another wasted expense for the government.
When speaking to a number of ‘Brexiters’, I was also alarmed by the fact the main reason they wished not to vote remain was due to a fear of becoming a ‘United Europe’. Once more, they evidently worry for the potential of integration to remove British culture and heritage. It must be noted however that such an idea fails to recognise that identity is but a notion. I consider myself both English and British, whilst I’m sure if Europe was to become a single country state such as the United States, (though this notion is based upon popular consensus rather than governmental standings), I would still retain these identities within. Likewise, this belief that Britain should act alone, refrain from helping others and shut off its borders to immigration stems mainly from either selfish or racial standings, whilst ignoring the benefits of joining other cultures and uniting powers.
In a time when Europe is at a threat to terrorism, this is surely the time to be aiding one another, not closing ourselves off in solitude and shunning other races. Whilst I would like to stress that either remaining or leaving the EU would have little effect upon the levels of immigration anyway, likely resulting in a free movement agreement, what I wish to ultimately emphasise to any who may be reading is that this is certainly not an issue.
Immigration is a natural part of life, indeed it aids to economy and offers opportunities for people to share culture and ideas.The next time someone is speaking a different language to you, please do not grow angry and feel threatened. Do not consider them an alien race, invading your home country and trying to exploit you. They are human beings, with as much right to the land as someone who happened to be born there.