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England is a 'divided nation'

CAMPAIGN: Brexiteers gather support outside the Houses of Parliament before last year’s EU referendum

NEW RESEARCH from charity HOPE Not Hate has revealed that despite the nation becoming more open and tolerant as a whole, responses to Brexit have left Britain more divided.

It says that attitudes towards race, faith and belonging have become increasingly polarised since 2011, and on both the liberal and hostile sides of the spectrum, views have hardened.

According to HOPE Not Hate, Brexit continues to divide opinion and leaves little room for common ground between different ‘identity tribes’. However, the survey of 4,000 people in six identity tribes across England suggests that, overall, the country is an increasingly tolerant and open place.

Social and demographic change – and a belief that Brexit will help solve the ‘problem’ (among its supporters) – have led to softening views on immigration. Most people see immigration as a benefit to Britain, with 88 per cent of those polled believing immigration is essential, and that economic need should determine future levels.

However, attitudes towards Muslims and Islam have simultaneously worsened among the more hostile sections of society, with 52 per cent of those answering 140 questions saying that Islam poses a threat to the West, and 42 per cent saying that they are more suspicious of Muslims as a result of the recent terrorist attacks. A quarter of English people questioned by HOPE Not Hate also believe that Islam is a dangerous religion that incites violence, with older people more prone to Islamophobia, painting a worrying set of views which will require significant effort to address.


CONCERNED: Nick Lowles, Chief Executive of HOPE Not Hate

Nick Lowles, Chief Executive of HOPE Not Hate said:

“Despite the turbulent events of recent months, it is heartening to see that England remains, overall, a liberal and tolerant place.

“However, significant challenges remain, with Brexit likely to dominate politics in years to come and set to trigger feelings of betrayal amid a tough period of economic downturn. The fear and hostility displayed towards Muslims is deeply worrying, despite most people claiming that they stand firm against extremists’ attempt to conflate their heinous actions with that of an entire religion.

“Clearly there is a lot of work to be done here.”

The results of the survey also show that:

- Fewer people are identifying with being English than they did in 2011. Very few black and minority ethnic (BAME) people questioned for the survey identify themselves as English.

- The majority of Britons welcomed the acts of unity after the recent terror attacks and want communities to come together. The vast majority (77 per cent) stand firmly against the conflation of extremists’ actions with an entire religion. However, there is a significant minority whose views are hardening since the attacks.

OPTIMISM

- There is cautious optimism about the economy, but expectations for future economic well-being are clearly split along Brexit divisions, with Remain voters fearful and Leave voters more optimistic.

- Attitudes to the Grenfell Tower disaster have deeply divided the country. Londoners, Labour voters and BAME communities draw a wider lesson about Britain’s unequal society where the poor lose out, while those outside London, Conservatives and supporters of the far right view it as an isolated unfortunate accident

- Londoners are significantly more liberal towards immigration (17 per cent more likely than those elsewhere in England to believe there is a place for everyone in Britain; 15 per cent more likely to see immigration as a good thing); 86 per cent of Londoners have been impressed with the unity shown by the British population in the face of terror attacks, and 64 per cent had noticed Muslim community leaders speaking out about the attacks, compared to 52 per cent of non-Londoners.

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