After Brexit, Media to Say No to Racism and Xenophobia

Published: 26 June 2016

Country: UK

Brexit_MediaThere were threating xenophobic, anti-immigration tones in some British press, mostly tabloids, all along the campaign for EU referendum. Not only that many representatives of the Leave campaign spread the message that “the EU immigration system is immoral and unfair”, but some media outlets including two best-selling tabloids, mostly ignored economic reasons for staying or leaving the EU and focused their coverage on migrants and reasons on why they are not wanted in the UK.

“EU migrants are more likely to have a job in the UK than British citizens”, claimed Daily Mail while the Sun warned about “migrant surge if we stay in the EU”. Both papers backed the Leave campaign. It came as no surprise that hundreds of people hit the streets of some of England and Scotland’s biggest cities in protest over the “anti-immigration” tone of the pro-Brexit campaign.

“The Edinburgh rally was advertised online under the title: ‘After the Referendum, Defend all Migrants.’ It stated: ‘The EU referendum has unleashed a torrent of racism.  Unabashed, unchecked racist and xenophobic hyperbole has dominated the entire campaign, with migration being defined as a ‘problem’, or ‘crisis’, with bigotry being stoked up against migrants, and with EU citizens living here being systematically denied a voice,’” reported ITV.

Brexit_Media_ScotlandThe Guardian, in its post-referendum coverage, asked how the UK exit from the EU would affect migrants and ethnic minorities. “This morning a lot of British ethnic minority people are feeling the same. After an appalling referendum campaign, dominated by daily front-page scare stories regarding immigration, we’re wondering if people will again be questioning if we should be going back to our ‘own country’,” wrote the Guardian’s journalist Joseph Harker.  The Guardian aims to hear from ethnic minorities and migrants how the referendum and the UK voting to leave the EU had impact on them. One of the questions the Guardian posed to its readers with minority and migrant background was whether they felt excluded and even alienated during the campaign.

Not only that racism, xenophobia, anti-immigration tones were present in some of the media coverage of the EU referendum campaign, but some of media outlets missed to report on economic reasons for and against the British membership in the EU. Of course there were many serious and useful analyses of data, numbers and potential consequences in the media, but judging by the titles in tabloids and repeated messages by some Vote Leave representatives, this was a very anti-migrant campaign that were not exposed and condemned by huge number of the media outlets in the UK. Now the media in the UK that consider themselves professional and ethical, have to say no to racism and xenophobia, strongly and decisively.