Brexit (Supplementary) [1]

Session date: 
March 21, 2019
Question By: 
Unmesh Desai
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


After the result of the [Brexit] referendum in 2015 there was a spike in hate crime and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has warned that there is a real possibility there will be a similar increase in reports in the coming months.  I have raised this before with you.  Do you share my and HMICFRS’s concerns over this possibility?

Supplementary To: 


Brexit (Supplementary) [1]

Brexit (Supplementary) [1]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I do.  It is just worth reminding ourselves that there is a direct link between so‑called mainstream politicians demonising immigrants, demonising others, and the increase and spike in hate crimes.  When you see posters that say, “Breaking point” linked to immigration, which mainstream politicians are promoting to win a referendum, do not be surprised if there is a spike in race crime because some people think it is acceptable to behave in a certain way.  I am concerned about the possibility of an increase in race crime or a spike because of what happens in relation to us leaving the EU and some of the discourse taking place in the public arena by so‑called mainstream politicians, amplified by the media and by social media companies as well.  It is really important that we prepare for that, we are vigilant, and we do what we can to support those communities.


Unmesh Desai AM:  Thank you for that.  The New Zealand Prime Minister has called for a global fight to root out racist right‑wing ideology.  I agree and clearly this needs to be done at all levels.  Sports is an example.  What do you see as the role of London sporting institutions in tackling hate crime and challenging groups like the so‑called Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA), with their hate‑fuelled rhetoric?  Will you join me in calling upon clubs like West Ham United Football Club to take a clear, unequivocal and unambiguous stand against the activities of such groups?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Can I just say, Chairman, through you, that Assembly Member Desai has a long history of campaigning against racism going back many decades?  I know of work you did just this weekend in relation to the march through London to raise awareness of some of the challenges facing our diverse and wonderful communities across London. 


We have to do a lot more in relation to stamping out racism.  Some of our football clubs have a role to play.  You are right, the community work West Ham does is very good.  The community work many of the clubs do is very good.  But in their name, some of their so‑called fans behave in a disgraceful manner and it is really important that clubs call out their fans when they are behaving in a disgraceful manner.  You are right to put on record the good work in the community that West Ham does.


Unmesh Desai AM:  Absolutely.  I commend West Ham, and indeed all other Premier League clubs and London clubs, for the work they do to combat race hatred, but as I said, they need to go a step further and take a clear and unambiguous stand against people like the DFLA. 


Very quickly, Mr Mayor, I will finish on this note.  Your predecessor‑but‑one [Ken Livingstone] supported events like the Rise festival to bring London and Londoners together.  Will you consider supporting mass initiatives such as Rise and the newly‑formed London United, which is a coalition of the London trade unions, to bring Londoners together to fight hatred in all its forms?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  One of the reasons why I have London’s first ever Deputy Mayor for Social Integration and Communities is to do this sort of work.  It is really important.  Diversity is our strength but diversity is not the same as integration, bringing people together, and one of the roles of Dr Debbie Weekes‑Bernard is to bring people together using culture, music, arts and other things.  You would have seen in the London Borough of Waltham Forest the great work the Council is doing there with London’s first ever Borough of Culture.  Next year [2020] it is going to be Brent.  I am more than happy, Assembly Member Desai, for you to speak to the Deputy Mayor about other things we can be doing to bring people together.


Unmesh Desai AM:  You set a great example in the way that you champion pride in London.  Thank you, Mr Mayor.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you.