Un International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:41 pm on 8th April 2019.

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Photo of Angela Crawley Angela Crawley Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Disabilities), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Pensions), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Youth affairs), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Children and Families), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Equalities) 8:41 pm, 8th April 2019

I congratulate Faisal Rashid on securing the debate. I am genuinely grateful to be able to align myself with the comments by him and by the many other speakers from across the Chamber, who approached the debate with the correct tone. As well as the hon. Gentleman, we heard from the hon. Members for Stirling (Stephen Kerr), for Bradford East (Imran Hussain), for Solihull (Julian Knight), for Dudley North (Ian Austin), for Cheltenham (Alex Chalk) and for Worthing West (Sir Peter Bottomley)—and, miraculously, Jim Shannon snuck in there. He never misses an opportunity.

The theme for this year’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is

“mitigating and countering rising nationalist populism and extreme supremacist ideologies.”

That is one of the biggest flashpoints of racial discrimination. We have to look at the situation we find ourselves in. We fail to recognise the serious ramifications for the general public of our surrounding ourselves with Brexit. The language and general policy making exhibited by this place send a message loudly and clearly to people across the country and give them the genuine feeling that they are not welcome.

Those are not just my words; they are the words of my constituents who attended a surgery for EU nationals. They told me they no longer feel welcome, valued or recognised for their contributions to the UK. That message comes loudly and clearly from this place, and we must all do more to recognise and address that. Frankly, no one outside this Chamber can bear to hear the word “Brexit” any more or cares whether a Lords amendment is coming back, but they do care fundamentally about the messages we send and about the long-term impact of racism.

The fact of the matter is this. We often value the virtue of freedom of speech. As the hon. Member for Worthing West rightly highlighted, there are too many opportunities for the far right to gain a platform and, worryingly, it has gained an even greater platform through the Brexit process. We in this House have created that problem by having a debate in the Chamber but not debating or listening to anyone outside it. No wonder the public have lost confidence.