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Sadiq Khan speaks out on hate crimes following Brexit vote

The London mayor asserted that people must ‘stand guard’ against racist and xenophobic attacks following the decision to leave the EU

The mayor of London asked the public to “stand guard” after a spike in hate crimes in the wake of the EU referendum vote this weekend.

Sadiq Khan, alongside Bernard Hogan-Howe, the met police commissioner, asserted that racist and xenophobic attacks would be treated with “zero tolerance”. This comes after a series of incidents over the weekend suspected to be linked to the Brexit vote: a Polish community centre in Hammersmith was vandalised with racist graffiti, and many have taken to Twitter to share experiences of racial abuse in the streets.

In a statement, according to the Evening Standard, Khan said: “Last week the country voted to leave the European Union, but London voted to stay. In every corner of our city, including those few areas where the majority voted to leave, people of all nationalities, races and religions live cheek by jowl, in harmony. 

“I say to them all you are, and you will continue to be, welcome in London and in all our communities. As mayor, I take seriously my responsibility to defend London’s fantastic mix of diversity and tolerance. So it’s really important we stand guard against any rise in hate crimes or abuse by those who might use last week’s referendum as cover to seek to divide us. 

“I’ve asked out police to be extra vigilant for any rise in cases of hate crime and I’m calling on all Londoners to pull together and rally behind this great city. While I’m mayor, addressing hate crimes will be a priority for the Met. We will have a zero tolerance approach to any attempt to hurt and divide our communities.”

Approximately 60 per cent of Londoners voted to remain within the EU, with only five out of 33 boroughs that voted to leave. However, Khan explained that though the campaign against the EU stirred issues surrounding immigration, he was not trying to “demonise” those who voted out.

He asserted: “While I and millions of others disagreed with their decision, they took it for a variety of reasons and this shouldn’t be used to accuse them of being xenophobic or racist. We must respect their decision and work together now to get the best deal for London.”

Hogan-Howe added to this: “London is a diverse global city where people from many different backgrounds live and work side-by-side in safety. That hasn’t changed in the past few days but if people do have any concerns they should let the police know. We will investigate vigorously any reports or crime motivated by hatred.”

Since the referendum results early Friday morning, marches and protests have been held across the country as people attempt to contest the vote. Many have voiced the idea of London as an independent city state that could retain its EU membership, and a petition calling for a second referendum has hit its target to be debated in parliament.