Few would disagree that racism & xenophobia were at least factors behind Brexit. Not the only ones, but migrants were definitely highlighted in a more negative light during the run-up to 2016’s Referendum. But we’re also mindful that many Britons of Asian, Afro-Caribbean & other non-UK origins also voted Brexit for various other reasons.
I also don’t think that the UK is any worse than other EU states &, more to the point, UK is still better than some for tolerance in general. It could be better of course, but xenophobia & intolerance in some Eastern European EU states is much worse. That’s evident beyond the racist chanting we frequently read about from their football terraces.
It’s also fair to say that before 2008’s financial crisis & the ensuing punitive austerity, the brunt of which fell on UK’s poorer communities, far fewer people even questioned the merits or cons of EU membership. Back then it wasn’t at the forefront of as many peoples preoccupations.
However, as often happens when large segments of any population feels greater financial hardship for longer periods, they become more inclined to seek convenient scapegoats for their misery. Here, rather than bringing the real culprits to greater account, ie. the reckless speculators behind the financial crisis, the RW press increasingly focused on the EU as a undemocratic bureaucracy increasingly sucking billions from UK’s coffers, money that could instead be spent on improving the lives of ordinary Britons via improved public services, better hospitals, schools, etc. Farage & the Tories particularly played on that.
Considering the combined strength of the anti-EU campaign, you can see why many ordinary British citizens were taken in. That doesn’t make the majority of them bad people, let alone racists.
Now it’s done, so one hopes that the UK can at least walk away with strong trade deals that will see mutual benefits for both sides. More compromises will be necessary, but I think that’ll happen as it’s in the strong interests of both sides to see a positive resolution. So overall I’m optimistic for UK, be it with some reservations due to tight deadlines. - Regards.