Government fostered hostile environment for immigrants, says Liberty chief


The head of civil rights group Liberty has accused the Government of deliberately fostering a hostile environment for immigrants which has helped fuel a spike in hate crime after the Brexit vote.

Martha Spurrier, who has taken over the high-profile role as director of Liberty from Shami Chakrabarti, suggested Prime Minister Theresa May was reaping what she sowed as home secretary.

"Over the last five years, the Tory government have openly said that they would create a hostile environment for immigrants. Their own language, their own policy, is called 'hostile environment'. They make no bones about it.

"Yet, when they see it pay off in a rise in hate crime, they then say, 'What they really don't want is this hostile environment'. The language is really telling. You reap what you sow.

"Calling it a 'hostile environment' says to people 'you can play a part in that too'," Ms Spurrier told the Huffington Post.

Mrs May used a visit to Warsaw last week to condemn "shameful and despicable" attacks on Poles in Britain which have formed part of a surge in hate crime since the narrow Leave victory in the EU referendum.

Official figures revealed that more than 6,000 alleged hate crimes and incidents were reported to police in the four weeks from the middle of June.

The daily rate peaked at 289 reports on June 25 - the day after the referendum result was announced.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd denied the Government's refusal to guarantee the post-Brexit status of the three million EU nationals living in the UK helped drive the upsurge in hate crime when she launched an initiative to tackle the problem.

In 2013, then shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper accused the Government of using "the language of the National Front" after a billboard campaign told illegal immigrants: "Go home or face arrest." 

Tory former cabinet member Baroness Warsi has warned that mainstream politicians are responsible for fuelling a wave of "respectable racism" due to the tone of the Brexit and London mayor campaigns.