A study by the Institute of Race Relations shows there has been a spike in hate crimes following Britain’s decision to leave the European Union (EU).
The study, released on Thursday, shows that 134 racist incidents were reported in the month after the Brexit referendum on June 23, when nearly 52 percent of British voters opted to leave the EU, in hopes of taking back control over their borders and having more economic freedom.
The Institute of Race Relations analysis noted that 51 of the 134 incidents referred either to the referendum or messages which had been used during the Brexit campaign.
“Just go home. We voted you out. You will have to leave the country soon,” a British man told one woman from Eastern Europe, the study said.
Victims were both people from the EU countries and those who supported Britain remaining in the bloc.
Muslims were targeted in 30 incidents, making up the largest group of victims, according to the report.
The Institute of Race Relations blamed the British government’s policies on immigration for inciting hate crimes after the Brexit vote.
“Our thesis is that the spike in race hatred has had a direct impetus from the divisive approach to race, religion and migration which is now official policy,” it said.
“To put it simply, if a hostile environment is embedded politically, why should we be surprised when it takes root culturally?”
Racist incidents flourished in the wake of the vote to quit the 28-nation bloc. Police statistics show hate crimes against immigrants have particularly surged in areas of the UK that voted for Brexit.
Experts have warned that leaving the EU will severely hurt London’s position as a financial hub, unless the UK decides to keep its access to the single EU market by loosening its stance on immigration.
If the UK loses its access to the EU’s single market, the resulting increase in the costs of doing business and exporting to the EU would hurt Britain’s competitive position in Europe.
Many British leaders are now striving to find ways to avoid the exit from the EU.
Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said last week Britain should keep its “options open” on whether or not to leave the EU until after Brexit talks with the bloc are completed.