York MP Rachael Maskell has condemned Nigel Farage and Donald Trump for stirring up racism.
The Labour MP for York Central also told an audience at the Crescent Community Venue on Friday (March 11) that she found it “troubling” how immigration was being used in the debate over Brexit from the European Union.
But she added that she did not care whether people voted to remain or leave after announcing last month she would personally back staying inside the EU.
In her 10-minute speech, organised by York Stand Up to Racism and the York People’s Assembly, she condemned UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who wants Britain to leave the EU, and US presidential hopeful Donald Trump, who said he would temporarily bar Muslim people from being allowed to enter America.
‘Trump is no joke’
She told around 200 people last night: “There is something that does terrify me at this time. If I were to say the words Donald Trump, I am not making a cheap joke.
“What I am saying is that there is somebody out there at the moment who is saying that racist views are acceptable in our society. It is not acceptable. It will never be acceptable.
“We have to make it absolutely clear that Farage and the connotations that he puts out, the Trumps of this world, that they’re not welcome, that those views aren’t welcome and we will take a stand against every single prejudiced feeling.”
Ms Maskell said she was troubled by the negative connotations now attached to the word “immigrant”.
“I know I’ve been ruthlessly attacked on social media and so what. These people are being attacked day by day. They’ve been tossed out of their country because of the bombs we’ve been dropping from the sky on their land.
“They’re being sent across Europe where doors are being slammed in their faces. These are people who like you and me, just had the misfortune of being born into a country tearing itself apart by war.
“In the next 15 weeks we have a debate about the future of our country and I don’t care which side you stand on.
“But whatever you do, stand on the side of ordinary people to take on the language, to take on the prejudice, because we have got to beat it now or else it will take its root.”
Ms Maskell also attacked the austerity programme for “keeping people down, keeping people back, making people feel so inferior that they can look around to see where they can put their blame. They place their blame in the wrong place.”
Other speakers of the evening included Nahella Ashraf from Stand Up to Racism, Pinar Aksu from Glasgow Welcomes Refugees and Joanna Frith, who has just returned from the refugee camp called “The Jungle” in Calais.
The evening also took place to raise local support for next Saturday’s national demonstration in London, which is arguing in favour of refugees.