More than half of Britain’s black and minority ethnic voters think a no-deal Brexit would worsen race relations in the UK, a new poll has found.
The survey commissioned by the anti-racist Hope Not Hate campaign also found that more than two-thirds of Bame Britons (68%) are concerned that Brexit is feeding prejudice and division, with one-third having experienced or witnessed violence or threats of violence in the past year.
Although Brexit campaigners have long maintained that it’s unfair to taint Leave supporters as racist, the poll suggests that the UK’s minority populations are still very concerned about the rhetoric surrounding immigration and impact of a disorderly exit from the EU.
In the first survey of its kind, a large majority of those polled – 57% – believe that a no-deal Brexit would be bad for Britain, with only 16% thinking it would be good for Britain and 16% thinking it will make no difference.
While 52% of Bame people think that a no-deal Brexit would worsen race relations, some 53% think leaving the EU without a deal will empower people to make more negative comments about immigration in public.
Some 38% think there will be growing tension between communities, 34% think that violence or threats of violence would increase and 32% think a no deal would lead to a surge in support for the far right.
Last year, the Home Office said there had been “spikes in hate crime following certain events such as the EU referendum and the terrorist attacks in 2017”, although many Leave campaigners hotly dispute the causes of the rise.
The Hope Not Hate survey also found high levels of racism experienced by ethnic minorities in Britain today.
As well as a third of Bame Britons saying they had witnessed or experienced violence or threats of violence in the last year, half had been exposed to racism on social media.
People from a Pakistani background were most likely to have seen or experienced racism in all forms – 73% on social media, 68% comments in public and 34% exposed to violence or threats of violence.
There were also large regional variations, with twice as many Bame people in the West Midlands (84%) having seen or experienced racist comments being made in public compared with London (42%).
Mixed-race people (46%) and Black/African/Caribbean people (33%) in Britain are the most likely to fear the impact of a no-deal Brexit on race relations in Britain.
Even Bame voters who had supported Leave have concerns about the race impacts, the polling found.
Bame Leave voters are evenly split on the effects of a no deal Brexit: 40% think it would be bad for Britain, and 39% think it will be good. Some 34% think it will worsen race relations, and the same number think it will improve them.
The polling also showed Bame Britons had little faith in Boris Johnson to deliver a Brexit that would be good for them.
More than four times as many Bame people (22%) are not confident that Johnson will make life better for people like them as confident that he will (just 5%).
Bame people are most likely to describe Johnson as a buffoon (42%), untrustworthy (32%), self-serving (30%) or irresponsible (28%).
Writing for HuffPost UK, Rosie Carter, senior policy researcher for Hope Not Hate, said: “The Brexit referendum in 2016 marked a distinct moment in Britain’s multicultural history. The Leave campaigns supercharged emotions around immigration and integration that had been building over the preceding years.
“It’s rare in the political world for Britain’s ethnic minorities to be asked directly about how they think the big issues of the day will effect them.. In the current febrile political climate it is more important than ever to hear how Bame people felt about their lives and prospects.
“Our polling has exposed the scale of fears and concerns amongst our Bame communities and government, devolved and local authorities need to respond seriously and take action that moves beyond tokenism and takes on hate crime in our streets, in the press and online.”
* The survey of 992 Bame people was conducted using an online interview administered by Focaldata between 26 and 28 August. It has been weighted to be nationally representative.