Rushanara Ali MP condemns xenophobic and racist abuse after Brexit vote

The MP for Bethnal Green and Bow spoke in the Chamber to condemn shameful xenophobic, racist and intolerant abuse as police figures suggest a 57% increase in reported hate crimes across the country after the EU referendum result. She also criticised those who have used the referendum campaign to stir up division and hatred for their own political agendas.

Speaking in the Chamber, Rushanara said: 

"As someone who grew up experiencing considerable racism and Islamophobia, I am utterly shocked by what we have seen. My parents’ generation are even more shocked and sickened, because they thought we had conquered that level of racism. Does the Minister agree that some of our national leaders have been utterly irresponsible in playing the race and anti-Muslim card? That has to stop, and we need cross-party agreements between our national political leaders that it will not happen in future. Politicians need to take responsibility where they have acted irresponsibly.

"Even before the referendum in the run-up to the campaign, Britain First and other far-right organisations targeted constituencies such as mine, mosques and other institutions in acts of provocation wilfully to cause disorder. There is a lack of resources for policing, and inept legal provision in tackling the hateful groups that are trying to stir up intolerance and violence in our communities. Will the Minister take action immediately? Will she insist that the Prime Minister leads the debate and ensures that we actually step up to the plate?"

Home Office Minister Karen Bradley MP said in response: 

"I agree with the hon. Lady—we all thought that hate crime was something we had left behind and it is shocking that that has proved not to be the case. I also agree with her that, as politicians, we have a responsibility to be measured and responsible in our language, in what we say and in the actions we take. We must never try to pit one race against another, one gender against another or one sexuality against another. That is totally and utterly irresponsible.

"The hon. Lady asks about far-right extremism in her constituency. Our counter-extremism strategy has specific measures to deal with extremism of all forms. People looked at the strategy and thought that it was perhaps just about Islamic extremism, but it is not—it is about all forms of extremism, including neo-Nazi and far-right extremism. The new civil orders that we will consult on as part of our counter-extremism Bill will address part of that."