Labour MEP, Claude Moraes warns of the dangers Brexit poses to equality and anti-discrimination.
Claude Moraes writes for the Guardian that “one of the saddest consequences of Britain leaving the EU is that it will end many years in which the UK has actively advanced EU-wide anti-discrimination legislation”. The article is written as a rebuttal to Theresa May’s insistence this week that she wants to tackle injustice in Britain after publishing extensive data which highlights inequality in the UK.
The prime minister’s audit highlights the inequality faced by BAME communities in Britain. The report looks at areas such as crime and justice, education, healthcare, housing, work and pay. The audit does not bring to light any new findings, many studies have been conducted into racial inequality in the past, however, Mrs May has used the opportunity to restate her commitment to tackling injustice.
Moraes points out the hypocrisy of the PM’s commitment. Through the EU, the UK has played a pivotal part in fighting inequality; be it through gender equality, equal pay, or various other equal employment directives, the UK and EU have worked together to protect many underprivileged groups. May’s hard-line Brexit stance is a betrayal of the progress the EU and UK’s partnership has made towards ending inequality.
Moraes also believes that the Eurosceptic discourse in the UK has meant that EU equality and anti-discrimination legislation often goes unreported and in some cases, the laws have been criticised as overregulation or interference. These pieces of legislation are now being scrutinised as Britain prepares to leave the EU and with the rise of populism. At present, only 1.6% of the European Parliament is non-white, and about half of these non-white MEPs are from the UK. Post-Brexit, with an even less diverse set of MEPs and increased populism, anti-discrimination legislation could be under threat.
In the UK, there are worries that there will be a withdrawal from the European convention on human rights, with the bill being replaced with a UK bill of rights. With the Brexit referendum taking place under a backdrop of anti-immigration rhetoric there is a potential for equality laws and anti-discrimination legislation to be dialled back after the Brexit process is complete. Whoever is in power when the UK withdrawal from the EU is complete, be it conservative or Labour, will in Moreas’ opinion be challenged to protect equality and anti-discrimination laws.