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Calls for Unity in Face of Brexit

The mayor of London Sadiq Khan has called for tolerance and the celebration of diversity in the face of the Brexit vote which has seen a spike in racially motivated crimes in the UK.

A rise of populist fervour both in Europe with Marine Le Pen in France, Brexit in Britain, Nordinger in Austria and the staunchly anti-immigration sentiment of countries such as Hungary; as well as the slim possibility of Donald Trump becoming the president of the USA means that there has been an undeniable backlash against multiculturalism and globalisation.

Politicians such as Trump are fanning nationalist flames and exciting fear and discontent within the population in order to advance their own agendas.

The result in Britain and the USA has been violence. From polish migrants who had graffiti daubed on message boards in their tower block flats, to black people being punched and kicked at rallies while Trump seemingly encouraged the chaos.

The Conservative government has largely bowed to the demand of people who were tired of what they saw as an open door policy which was harmful to those already settled in the UK, particularly white British working class folk. The result has been the new PM Theresa May promising what looks like a hard Brexit, negotiated around the fact that European quotas for immigration will not be adhered to any longer. The Home Secretary has announced that amount of foreign workers should be listed, and the Health Secretary has expressed the desire for more home grown British doctors.

The concern here is that the government is sending the wrong message to those who want to work hard and make Britain their home. As someone writing from South Korea with a Korean spouse, I have personally been affected by the governments’ implementation of financial requirements under Theresa May when she was Home Secretary. I would have to earn over £18,600 a year (which although perhaps is at the lower end of the earning spectrum, nevertheless suggests that we would have to spend time apart while I set things up) or have savings of over £67,000.

Laws such as these might be sensible in order to stop the abuse of the welfare system that has been so mercilessly attacked by the Tory administration, but on a human rather than financial scale, what about the suffering of families torn apart, even those who have children. Surely it is a breach of human rights not to be able to enjoy a family life with your husband or wife. My wife works for a major European petrochemical company based in Belgium from her office in Seoul, and easily meets the financial requirements, with the possibility of working remotely from home in the future. She also speaks English better than many native speakers who I’ve met. I also make a comfortable salary teaching English, and I’ve been fortunate enough to get a masters degree in English.

Nevertheless, despite feeling that our international experience and education could be a positive benefit for the British economy, my strong desire to return and work hard is hindered by a government pandering to populism, which, through the UKIP’s success in the previous general election, is the whole reason why the referendum was called, and thus the Brexit happened.

I will still return to the UK, but I feel exiled until I can save the £67,000 required to set up my wife’s visa. This will take a few years.  I cannot tell how long we will stay for, although it certainly depends on the mood and zeitgeist of the country. I will not put her in a position to be subjected to casual racism and the current shift of Europe to the right has me deeply concerned.

So much has been achieved, and when I left Britain 8 years ago to live in South Korea I was proud of a country that was multicultural, diverse and accepting of others.  When Sadiq Khan became the first muslim mayor of London it seemed that the country had moved beyond intolerance and bigotry.

As Kalpesh Solanki succinctly puts it in an article recently published in the Guardian,  “When we go to work we pick up a newspaper from an Asian-owned newsagent. We come home late and pick up a meal from an Indian or Chinese takeaway. We have a cold and pick up medicine from an Asian-owned pharmacy. The NHS survives on the invaluable contribution from doctors, surgeons, dentists and nurses from the Asian, black and European communities. More than half of construction workers building London’s new homes are from Europe. This is the Britain we know and this is the Britain we want to excel in the 21st century, leading the way with talent from all communities to engineer space travel, build driverless cars and save lives. So let’s embrace change and unite to help each other achieve greater success together. Division weakens us – but in unity there is strength.”

 

Written By:

Daniel James
www.danieljamesbio.com
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