Gordon Brown warns it could 'take a generation' to end divisions in UK

PUBLISHED: 18:48 18 November 2019 | UPDATED: 18:48 18 November 2019

Former prime minister Gordon Brown. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA.

Former prime minister Gordon Brown. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

Former prime minister Gordon Brown is set to warn it will take more than an election to end divisions in the UK - and it could take a generation.

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In a speech he will say that the country's "bitter divisions are now not just over Brexit, but between north and south, rich and poor and between the four nations".

Addressing a Hope Not Hate summit, the former chancellor and Lbour leader will say: "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.

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"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.

"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 will caution that "nationalists on both sides are more interested in exploiting divisions rather than ending them".

His comments came as a Hope Not Hate poll found only 7% of the black and minority ethnic community believe racism is not on the rise.

Endorsing Labour, Brown said all the UK "will have to work far harder to heal the wounds of recent years", and politicians need to "reach out to and enter into a dialogue" with the public.

"It will need measures to end the economic insecurity that is the breeding ground for populist nationalism."

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