This was a vote for a particularly noxious and unappealing descent into a nasty form of revisionist romanticism that wants to remind 'us' of the time when we were special and considered ourselves better than the rest. It is not remotely surprising that the Brexit vote has given rise to greater levels of racist incidents and xenophobia, for what else could emerge from a vote that wanted to reinstate Britain's imperial past? Empires are always constituted on the binaries of 'them' and 'us' and we know who the 'them' are (i.e. immigrants being told to go back to where they came from) and who are the 'us', i.e. White British people who have the right to be here. Empires are predicated on the hypocrisies of imposing on others the kinds of things you would never tolerate for yourself.
As a Black theologian who has spent the past twenty years critiquing and challenging White privilege, Brexit simply laid bare what many of us had always known, that beneath the seemingly gentile world of manners and cold politeness that often characterises the English (as opposed the Celts on this island), there lies a subterranean torrent of racism and xenophobia. But whereas Enoch Powell was sacked from the Conservative Shadow cabinet for his 'Rivers of Blood' speech in 1968 (although 70,000 trade unionists supported him), Farage and co were rewarded with an election victory and then an inglorious retirement into hopeful obscurity having imperilled all our futures in the meantime. This is a strange time to be living on this island as a person of African descent and as the descendant of enslaved peoples - the people who built this empire with their blood stained bodies, for which Britain has NEVER apologised. My hope is that the alternative side of British identity will reveal itself - a much overlooked tradition. One that goes back to the Lollards, the Levellers, the Chartists, the Tolpuddle Martyrs. One where ordinary people stood alongside each other and recognise their shared conditions of struggle as being more determinative than notions of mythologised privilege that is nothing more than a vacuous dream peddled by the ruling classes to keep poor people as passive supplicants. So I still have the residuals of hope for this country, but they are being solely tested at the moment!