Brexit blamed for racist atmosphere after Queen's chaplain reveals abuse

PUBLISHED: 17:24 07 February 2019

The Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin said she was racially abused for the first time in three decades last year. Picture: PA Archive/PA Images

The Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin said she was racially abused for the first time in three decades last year. Picture: PA Archive/PA Images

PA Archive/PA Images

Brexit has given rise to a more racist climate, the Queen's chaplain has suggested.

Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin revealed she was racially abused on the street last year for the first time in three decades and told to go back to Africa.

She believes the turbulent political climate since the 2016 EU referendum has encouraged Britain’s racist “underbelly”.

The clergywoman said: “Whatever happens at the end of that (Brexit) it’s about how are we going to keep the nation together.

“Over 30 years I have lived in this country. For the first time, last year, I was shouted at in the street and told to go back to Africa.

“Now I don’t come from Africa, so I don’t know which country in Africa they wanted me to go back to.”

Born in Jamaica, Rev Hudson-Wilkin made her remarks at the Church of England Foundation for Educational Leadership, and said people had taken advantage of the political climate to renew their racism.

She said: “So I think there has developed an unpleasantness, there’s been an underbelly that has suddenly thought ‘this is our time, we can do this and behave in this manner’.”

She added it was unlikely any resolution before or on March 29 would result in the country reuniting, and called on people to pray for unity to help guide the UK through Brexit.

She said: “So we still need to be the ointment, we still need to be there praying and hoping and longing for the kind of unity that is going to see us down whatever pathway we go.”

Rev Hudson-Wilkin is also the chaplain to the speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, and said parliament is a “rather bruising place to be” but added parliamentary democracy was too precious to give up.

She said: “The verbal attacks, the vile abuse targeted on [MPs] through the internet, and we know all too well that this can spill over into physical attack not just simply threatened, but real, as in the case of Jo Cox MP who was brutally murdered.

“If we are going to be a truly resilient parliamentary democracy, then we are going to have to strongly resist the temptation of resorting to those defaults of behaviour that prevent us working together in a spirit of generosity and trust – the political point scoring, getting one up on the other, the football terrace shouting at one another.

“We need to regularly engage across the party and ideological divide.”

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