Before addressing Victoria’s video, for the purposes of full transparency, it is only right that I acknowledge my own positionality. Victoria Johnson is someone with whom I have worked with on a number of projects in the past. My concern for her wellbeing and that of her young family has not changed, and I still consider her a personal friend. My sincere hope, if she takes the time to read this, is that she will read it as the words of a friend and not an enemy. But it would not be right to simply ignore the statement she has made – and for many reasons.
As if on cue, no sooner was Brexit Day over than news began circulating of a notice posted for residents in a Norwich tower block telling people to speak English or go home. ‘We do not tolerate people speaking other languages than English in the flats,’ said the notice, before going on to encourage immigrants to return to their own countries and free up housing for white English-speaking British people. Monika Wiśniewska, a Polish author living in England, took to social media to describe how Polish people were now being described as ‘vermin.’
That the Leave campaign thrived on these instruments explains why hate crime and racially motived violence have spiked in the wake of the Brexit victory. In the eyes of those whose racism has been unfettered and legitimised by this populist climate the vote has vindicated them