Brexit has given a ‘license to be racist’, warns former Tory party chair

PUBLISHED: 09:08 22 January 2020 | UPDATED: 09:08 22 January 2020

Baroness Warsi. Picture: PA/David Jones.

Baroness Warsi. Picture: PA/David Jones.

PA Wire/PA Images

Former Tory party chair Baroness Warsi has warned people have been given ‘a licence to be racist’ since Brexit.

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Speaking during a guest lecture at King's College university, the Conservative peer said the "toxic" Leave campaign had encouraged racism and that she had experienced it first-hand.

Baroness Warsi, who is from a family of Pakistani Muslim immigrants, spoke about Brexit and her upbringing as part of a six-month partnership between the Migration Museum and King's College's Arts and Humanities Research Institute.

Warsi said at the event, which was chaired by Labour peer Shami Chakrabarti: "What became increasingly apparent during the Brexit debate is people (politicians) were saying whatever it takes to win the vote.

"We (Leave campaigners) were putting out a whole narrative where we were feeding the beast of bigotry.

"You can't run a toxic campaign and expect peace afterwards. We have unleashed a monster.

"In the past, most racists were afraid of being racist. Now they're not.

"I feel like people have been given licence to be racist."

Baroness Warsi added she had received death threats and racist abuse on Twitter, and said "moderate language at the top is key to changing attitudes".

When asked about the prime minister's use of inflammatory language on issues like race, Baroness Warsi told the PA news agency afterwards: "During the election campaign, Boris apologised for some of the language he used and the offence he caused.

"I'm hoping this is in the past. I'm hoping his language going forward will be measured and thoughtful."

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