Racist incidents feared in East End in wake of EU exit referendum vote

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs - Credit: Archant

The rise in racist incidents in the wake of last Thursday’s shock EU exit referendum result is now worrying Town Hall bosses in the heartland of London’s East End with its high ratio of immigrants.

Mayor Biggs keeping watch in London's East End

Mayor Biggs keeping watch in London's East End - Credit: Archant

Local mayor John Biggs has asked senior Tower Hamlets council officers to monitor the situation on the streets in what is one of Britain’s most diverse yet socially-deprived boroughs.

“Reports of a short-term rise in racially-motivated abuse in some areas is concerning,” he said.

“We don’t currently know what wider impact our exit from the EU will have, but thankfully we haven’t yet seen evidence of a spike in these incidents here. I’m confident the East End will pull together and not allow the ‘leave’ vote to divide us.”

Tower Hamlets voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU. The count declared on Friday at Canary Wharf’s East Wintergarden was 73,011 to 35,244. But nationally, the ‘remain’ vote was lost by 52 per cent against 48pc.

There was now “great uncertainty” for one of Britain’s most-socially deprived boroughs.

The mayor told the East London Advertiser: “There’s a fear of the impact of leaving the EU on our economy.

“London has to maintain strong links with Europe—while the rest of country has put its head in the sand.”

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The East End is traditionally defined by immigration, he pointed out. But this was now a sensitive issue after the ‘exit’ vote.

“The reality in race relations is the anxiety about EU migrants,” he added. “We have to watch this closely.”

The East End’s housing crisis is not due to EU migration, the mayor insists, but the “long term failure of the government” to recognise a need for more house construction. The mayor predicts an initial dip in house prices in the short term.

The Tower Hamlets population at 290,000 is set to rise to an estimated 360,000 by 2025. It has already doubled in the past 20 years alone, with the London Docklands redevelopment.