Healing Britain’s Brexit-fuelled divisions could take a generation, Gordon Brown warned tonight.
The former Prime Minister feared the general election race will simply “tear us even further apart” as a country.
Speaking at a Hope Not Hate dinner in London, the ex-Labour leader said: “It will take far more than an election – perhaps a generation – to end our country’s now-widening divisions and to drain the poison that is increasingly infecting our national life.
“A huge majority of people in Britain – 77% – now think that Brexit is fuelling prejudice and is making our country more divided than ever.
“With more parliamentary candidates than ever sacked because of racism, sexism or homophobia, more and more social media activists exploiting the internet to troll and abuse and with fake news debasing our public discourse, and with – it is sad to say – so many women giving up as MPs in the face of threats of violence, our country’s bitter divisions are now not just over Brexit but between North and South, rich and poor and between the four nations that, until recently, formed a cohesive United Kingdom.”
A poll for the anti-fascist Hope Not Hate group reveals just seven per cent of black and ethnic minorities say racism is not on the rise.
Some 56% have experienced harassment and 70% of 18 to 24-year-olds have fallen victim to racial intimidation on social media, he said.
Mr Brown, who was in No10 from 2007 to 2010, also issued fresh warnings about Scottish nationalists and the rise of “English nationalism” under the Tories.
“With the SNP now threatening the hardest of ‘hard’ separations and the Conservatives whipping up English nationalism with their claim Scotland will run England if there was a Labour government, nationalists on both sides are more interested in exploiting divisions rather than ending them,” he said.
“On December 12 we can resolve some of the urgent challenges – Brexit, austerity and the NHS – facing the country and for that we need a Labour Government.
“But all of the United Kingdom will have to work far harder to heal the wounds of recent years.
“Rebuilding national unity requires, as a starting point, tackling head-on divisive nationalisms and racism – not least with new laws to root out anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.”