‘Our friends, neighbours, workmates, partners’ – Islington to hold Brexit event

PUBLISHED: 09:58 17 January 2020 | UPDATED: 10:05 17 January 2020

Campaigners wave Union and European Union flags outside the Houses of Parliament. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA.

Campaigners wave Union and European Union flags outside the Houses of Parliament. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA.

PA Archive/PA Images

The day after Britain leaves the EU, Islington will host a community event in the face of what the council’s leader says feels like a “growing culture of intolerance”.

The event on Islington Green on Saturday, February 1 will run from 11.30am to 1.30pm. It will feature live entertainment, as well as giving people information about the EU Settlement Scheme.

Council leader Richard Watts said : "It's not a political event but it is an event to say how much we all in Islington enormously value the contribution of not just EU citizens living in the borough but also all of the diverse communities in Islington.

"One of the brilliant things about Islington is the way in which we all tend to muck along together, sometimes in difficult circumstances, and the event on Islington Green is a way of saying how much we all value that diversity and how much - for both economic and cultural reasons - we need that diversity to continue."

Cllr Watts said people are "naturally worried" at the moment, adding: "We have seen over the last few years a rising trend in hate crime - more incidents that people report - and that plays through in lots of different ways.

Cllr Richard Watts, leader of Islington Council. Picture: Em FitzgeraldCllr Richard Watts, leader of Islington Council. Picture: Em Fitzgerald

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"Often the Muslim communities are at the thick end of that. We saw the terrorist attack in Finsbury Park, two and a half years ago now, that was very much aimed at the Muslim community. But a whole range of people feel it - the Jewish community, anti-disabled crime is up, homophobic crime is up. These are all really concerning signs.

"Without wanting to make a political point, what feels to me like a growing culture of intolerance seems to sit behind that and it's not enough for us just to be silent in this time.

"We are worried nationally about seeing again a spike in hate crime that we saw after the Brexit referendum on the day that we leave. It felt really important for us, as a borough and as a council, to stand up and say we value the diversity and we value the role many people play in our borough."

While 51.9 per cent of people in the 2016 referendum voted to leave the EU, 75.2pc in Islington voted to remain.

Cllr Watts said that, as an employer, the council is "conscious that EU citizens are fundamental to our economy and we are completely stuffed economically if EU citizens don't feel welcome in Islington and in London".

"But it's more than that," he said. "It's actually saying that over many years diversity has become a hallmark of our borough, where people from other bits of the EU and all over the world are our friends, our neighbours, our workmates, our partners."

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