Statement on the Aftermath of the Decision to Leave the European Union

Following one of the most bruising and divisive public debates in recent memory, the British public voted to instruct the government to leave the European Union. The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, in recognition of the diversity of opinion among its members, took no official position in the debate, and we have no desire to return to the arguments that dominated the campaign.

The Haldane Society, however, notes with alarm the poisonous atmosphere in which this public debate took place, and expresses its dismay at the way that race and identity was weaponised by both Leavers and Remainers to sway public opinion. This was a campaign that saw Prime Minister David Cameron use the threat of Kent being overrun by refugees[1] to scare voters long before Nigel Farage unveiled one of the most despicable pieces of racist propaganda[2] seen in modern British political history.

Following the vote for Brexit, reports of race hate crimes have peaked at five times pre-referendum levels[3]. This comes as little surprise after an ugly and hostile campaign where the public were encouraged to blame immigrants for their problems. The Haldane Society condemns, in the strongest possible terms, all forms of xenophobia and racism. We express our solidarity with those who are facing an uncertain future and do not feel welcome in the UK (whether born in the UK or not). The Haldane Society urges its members to stand in solidarity with those who are victims of the post-referendum atmosphere.

The Haldane Society further expresses its outrage over the position of the government on the status of EU migrants currently living in the UK. Having been denied their say in the vote, many EU citizens are understandably fearful for their place in the country. Yet, rather than allay their concerns, leading figures in the government have shamefully elected to make their status a bargaining tool in future negotiations with the European Union.[4] 

The Haldane Society recognises the essential contribution that EU nationals make to public life and stands in solidarity with them. We call upon the government to give immediate effect to the expressed will of the House of Commons[5] and guarantee that those exercising their Treaty rights will have their current status and privileges protected, regardless of the outcome of any negotiations with the EU.  

The Haldane Society rejects fascism and racism both on the streets and dressed up in political discourse. We stand for the abolition of all borders and complete free movement of people.  We recognise that immigration controls are racist in themselves and that much of the inequality between nations is as a result of previous and ongoing colonialism, of which western nations such as the UK have greatly benefited. The Haldane Society will continue to campaign to fight the scapegoating of migrants and to fight for true equality as well as to put an end to the UK’s unjust and racist immigration system. 

[1] Jon Stone, “David Cameron says Calais refugee camps could move to Kent after EU exit,” The Independent, 8 February 2016, available at

[2] Mark Chandler, “EU Referendum: Nigel Farage slammed over Brexit poster showing queue of migrants,” Evening Standard, 16 June 2016, available at

[3] Hayden Smith & Claire Hayhurst, “Three race hate crimes every hour since EU referendum say Met Police,” The Independent, 5 July 2016, available at

[4] “Brexit: Rights of EU citizens living in UK sparks row,” BBC, 4 July 2016, available at

[5] Jessica Elgot, “Labour motion on EU migrants ‘right to remain’ passes Commons vote,” The Guardian, 6 July 2016, available at