‘Well before the 2016 referendum, media discourse blamed EU migrants for economic and social problems’ says the 2019 June paper (pdf) from Dr Sara Benedi Lahuerta and Dr Ingi Iusmen at the University of Southampton.
This report investigates the changes in the vulnerability of EU nationals as a consequence of the British Referendum (BR) campaign and vote, focusing, specifically, on the experiences and feelings of the Polish community in Southampton (as a case study of the wider EU community in the UK).
The report finds:
- The combination of institutional discrimination and negative media and political discourse legitimised an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality among Britons and paved the way for discriminatory and hate crime incidents
- A key contributing factor to the Poles’ subjective vulnerability is the uncertainty about their future legal status, including their right to reside in the UK and their entitlement to access social rights post-Brexit
- The strong presence of anti-migrant rhetoric in the referendum campaign and the understanding that the result somehow legitimised it, left many Poles feeling collectively prejudiced and judged by the very fact of the Brexit result.