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Letters: Antisocial media turns Leavers into Brexit extremists

Social media on a mobile phone (Picture: Edward Smith/PA) - Credit: EMPICS Entertainment

Reader Paul Hollands spent a week on a pro-Brexit Facebook group to break out of the Remain social media ‘bubble’.

I have spent the last week in a pro-Brexit group on Facebook. I did this to try and break out of my ‘bubble’, but also I went in search of the reason why people voted for Brexit. I was looking for reasoned arguments for why Brexit is happening. I found none.

What I discovered was large groups of people being radicalised daily and hourly, by far-right and neo-Nazi propaganda and a ubiquitous belief in wild conspiracy theories such as the Kalergi Plan, Agenda 21 and George Soros and the new world order. Google’s algorithmic flaws ensure that they can easily find some hate speech site that confirms these darkly wild fantasies.

Anyone disagreeing with them is a libtard leftist who is an apologist for Muslim terrorism. Sadiq Khan is hated because he is both ‘liberal’ Labour and a Muslim. There is huge support for Donald Trump because he is a ‘truth speaker’.

Remainers are called lefty Nazis who have been brainwashed by EU propaganda. When asked ‘why Nazi?’, the response comes that Hitler was a socialist because his party were the National Socialists.

The most common theme and motivator (and the most frightening) is a toxic mix of ideas about Muslims. In the minds of these people, all Muslims are terrorists and child rapists, and all immigrants are Muslims.

They say that Angela Merkel let millions of them into Germany and gave them EU passports and our EU membership means that they can now come to the UK to commit acts of terrorism.

Everything from the housing crisis, lack of NHS funding and cuts to benefits, police funding and cuts to the armed forces are blamed on the hordes of people the ‘bullying and corrupt’ EU are sending to the UK.

In reality, all of these things are the fault of our own governments and well within the power of our leaders to address, but Brexiteers have accepted an essentially racist political explanation for these issues, egged on by the right-wing press.

Here is one typical comment: ‘Please start a petition to limit the berth (sic) rate for all, Immigrants are outbreeding us by 3 to 1, it will also reduce the population on our overcrowded island and save on child benefit Pay outs. And reduce NHS costs.’

These are groups of people whose Facebook feeds are full of bile, hatred and misery. I’m sure it makes them all deeply fearful, but it is also radicalising them. It is not too hard to imagine this degenerating into paramilitarism of the type that killed Jo Cox.

Paul Hollands


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Schrodinger’s immigrant really does get around. He’s the Pole taking advantage of our generous welfare system while simultaneously taking your job. She’s the Latvian whose children are taking your son and daughter’s school place while receiving child benefit back home in Riga. Collectively it’s that Romanian family who jumped to the front of the housing queue despite all 15 of them squatting in your garden shed.

Why do people fall for all this nonsense and generalised ignorance?

David Sanderson, Grimsby

I was reading the BBC website on December 8. Next to a story on the Brexit negotiations was an article with the heading ‘Man cements head in microwave’.

What a perfect allegory for the Brexit process. Why do it in the first place?

Roger Farnham

David Davis has told the Commons that the British public were all aware that a Leave majority in the referendum would mean the UK leaving the single market and the customs union. He said this was because the public had seen statements made by party leaders and others on the Andrew Marr Show.

Andrew Marr would be astonished to learn that viewers of his show exceed 30 million rather than the estimated two million.

Of course, it goes without saying that statements on such programmes should be taken with handfuls rather than pinches of salt. After all, Theresa May declared on them several times in 2016 that she would not call an election!

Anthony West, Kent

It’s really difficult being a passionate Remainer actively involved in the Labour Party and striving to promote an open debate on Europe. Momentum have driven a bus through party democracy and are jealousy attempting to stop future debate on that unsustainable fudge pushed through at September’s Conference.

With the current Tory-driven chaos in the EU negotiations, the Labour Party ought to be strongly arguing the case for continued membership of the single market and customs union and actively promoting a second referendum.

Fear of the loss of the support of Labour Leavers at the next election is no excuse. Most Labour Leavers voted Leave out of a hostility towards immigrants and especially East Europeans coming to work in Britain. The Labour movement must have no truck with any form of English nationalism, especially that from its own supporters.

Time for the Labour Party to reverse its current position on Europe. Principles matter.

Richard Denton-White

Good to see TNE editor-at-large Alastair Campbell on Channel 4 News taking on Owen Paterson.’You’re talking nonsense!’ declared Paterson as he airily dismissed Alastair’s concerns on the Irish border post-Brexit.

It’s worth recalling that in a BBC interview about a failed badger cull, Paterson once stated: ‘The badgers moved the goalposts.’ Pretty clear who is actually talking nonsense.

Elizabeth Gould

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