Movement for Justice campaigns against Brexit and Trump. Wasi Daniju/Flickr. Some rights reserved. The following is a transcript of a speech given by Movement for Justice’s (MFJ) Antonia Bright at a Stop Trump rally in Parliament Square on Monday 20th February 2017, where a number of activists and leaders in civil society spoke out against Trump and the nationalist surge he embodies. Today, with the triggering of Article 50, the process of Brexit has formally begun. MFJ have been organising around the message that ‘Brexit is racist’ for months – are their priorities different now, will they rally around a different front? Antonia said:
“The fight to stop Brexit is one that has to continue. Nothing is settled, and in any case destroying the rights of minorities is not democracy. It has to be fought. There isn't a choice on that.
Brexit is not simply a letter the Prime Minister sends. It's the new anti-immigrant bill planned, the raids in immigrant communities, it's the violent attacks, the hate crime, the verbal abuse, the manipulation of who gets the right to stay and how many ways that is kept temporary and precarious.
There are going to be many struggles, and likely uprisings, and it can and must reverse the rightwards direction Brexit is taking us.”
Stop Brexit – Stop Trump
We are facing the biggest, most overarching, racist attack on immigration in generations.
Here it is embodied in Brexit, which has propelled Theresa May to power. In the US it is embodied in Trumps election. Across Europe it is embodied by electoral successes of fascist parties and the militarisation of borders against people.
It is up to a new movement and a new generation to organise, with the conscious programme needed to fight back and win: speaking the plain truth about racism, standing for real equality and dignity for all of our communities, including the right to be here, to live, work and study here – for every one of us.
That is why MFJ exists: we have a program, we speak the truth about racism, sexism and bigotry, and we fight to win.
Nothing is settled, and in any case destroying the rights of minorities is not democracy. It has to be fought. There isn't a choice on that.
Theresa May led the British government’s 'hostile environment' policy that forced migrants into destitution; turned working a job into a criminal offence; set immigrants up to fail; tore apart legal aid; legitimised the bullying and harassment of children and students for being Muslim; threw thousands of international students out of the country, and imprisoned hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers and others of immigrant backgrounds into secretive indefinite detention.
Brexit is the outcome of the decrepit, unrelenting racist scapegoating of immigrants by politicians right here, over decades.
Brexit gave Trump inspiration, and confidence.
We must not use opposing Trump as an excuse for not opposing Brexit. We must be as bold about fighting racism here. That is how we do ‘solidarity’.
Brexit is racist. Brexit helped Trump. May depends on Trump for a Brexit deal.
Brexit is not democratic.
It was a referendum called by demagogues, designed to destroy the rights and freedoms of millions of minorities, poor and oppressed people in this country.
It not only attacks EU migrants, it is an assault on all migrant communities.
Destroying the rights of minorities is not democratic – it is tyranny.
No business as usual – we have to march – shut down London – come with us! Join MFJ!
We must not and will not be silent in the face of Brexit, Trump, May and her cronies – or any of the fascists pushing mainstream politics to the far right across Europe. Normalising immigrant-bashing is cover for their violent attacks on Muslim, migrant, black and Asian communities, women, queer, and trans people.
We can take a lead from the thousands of students who walked out in NYC; the thousands out in LA, young people, Latina communities; the thousands who shut down the airports when Trump issued his Muslim Ban.
They didn’t say, ‘wait four years’ or ‘wait for the Democrats’. They recognized that the fight is today, and the frontline is we ourselves – the masses ‘yearning to breathe free’.
We can’t wait for Corbyn or Labour either, or for their ‘traditional Labour voters,’ who apparently don’t include black and Asian communities. We fight racism by Telling It Like It Is; avoidance is for the privileged. We’ve all been hurt by austerity. There’s not a reason or excuse to throw migrants under the bus. If we want a better life we better reject racist divide-and-rule and stand up for each other.
We’ve all been hurt by austerity. There’s not a reason or excuse to throw migrants under the bus. If we want a better life we better reject racist divide-and-rule and stand up for each other.
There is a void in politics. The political elite is not meeting the despair and uncertainty felt by millions because of their austerity.
The emerging far-right want to fill that void with immigrant-bashing anti-Muslim lies.
We have fill that void with a new integrated, independent, mass youth-led immigrant rights, civil rights movement, speaking the truth about racism, unafraid to be who we are, unafraid of power of the oppressed in action.
A movement has to be moving – we have to get marching – get striking – and up rising.
Not just today but tomorrow – not just to vote but exercise our voice in every possible way by any means necessary.
Not just to show we are angry – but to win.