The UK’s first female Prime Minister in 26 years – only the second in our history – has chosen as her farewell performance to welcome the right-wing President of the United States, Donald Trump, on a state visit. This is a man who has multiple sexual misconduct cases to his name and has publicly stated he would date his own daughter.
The Tories’ membership has been declining for years and pandering to the recent surge in right-wing populism is a cynical, and dangerous, attempt to win back supporters. This will continue beyond May’s demise. Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party came out top in the recent European elections and, in response, the Tories will likely elect a leader even further to the right.
Since the 2016 referendum in which the British people voted to leave the EU much has been made of the increase in racism reflected in rising hate crime statistics. Many have professed surprise, but this is a country in which institutional racism is deeply embedded and has been for years. In the UK black people are eight times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police.
This goes right to the top. Recently, the Home Secretary ordered that Shamima Begum be stripped of her British citizenship and let her two-week old, British son die of pneumonia in a refugee camp in Syria. Her family’s lawyer has stated Sajid Javid made the decision for political gain. He has recently announced his candidacy in the leadership race.
As Home Secretary Theresa May presided over the “hostile environment” which she designed to make conditions for immigrants in the UK so uncomfortable they would decide to leave. Can you be anti-immigrant and not be a racist?
This year the secret service announced that it was shifting its focus onto the far-right in view of the fact that this was the group most likely to carry out a terrorist attack in the near future. The threat is very real. Three years ago Labour Member of Parliament Jo Cox was murdered by the immigrant-hating, white supremacist Thomas Mair and in March a white supremacist killed 50 people during Friday prayers in Christchurch, New Zealand.
During her tenure as Home Secretary Theresa May fashioned terrorism as a Muslim problem and Muslims as a security threat, alienating huge parts of the community in the process. Most notably she pushed through the 2015 Counter Terrorism and Security Bill which stipulated doctors and teachers must spy on Muslims within their ranks.
May has come down hard on certain cross sections of society, but she has been reserved when it comes to her condemnation of the far-right. It’s not difficult to conclude that the answer lies, at least in part, in the colour of their skin. If there is one common attribute to the hugely diverse communities of foreigners in the UK, it’s that they shoulder the blame for Britain’s problems.
In August 2017 white nationalists, Neo-Nazis, and Ku Klux Klan members showed up at Charlottesville in Virginia looking for trouble after news reached them that the small city’s pro-slavery monuments would be torn down. One of them drove a car into a crowd of counter protesters and killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injured dozens more.
In the aftermath of the attack Donald Trump was deliberately vague, condemning the hatred and bigotry “on many sides.” After the Christchurch shootings he denied white nationalism was a global threat and refused to express sympathy for Muslims. Presumably, he was simultaneously worried about losing their vote and trying to shore up support for policies such as his travel ban, which prevents refugees from Libya, Syria and Yemen, among other countries, entering the US.
Like her ally, May has done little for the citizens of Libya, Syria and Yemen during her time in office. Most notably, despite an outcry from human rights activists, under May Britain continues
to license billions of dollars’ worth of arms to Saudi Arabia who have killed thousands of civilians in the Yemen war. Whilst it’s not difficult to see why Trump and May are friends, the fact that we will move even closer to the US post-Brexit is nothing short of terrifying.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.