Saturday, 25 March 2017
Brexit and the Polish community
My name is Wiktor Moszczynski and, as you can see from my name, I am a Londoner. I am also a member of the Polish community in the UK. There are 916,000 Polish nationals currently here, the largest single group within the EU community in the UK. They were encouraged to come here after 2004 when Poland and its neighbours joined the EU. They joined the children and grandchildren of the post-war Polish community which had fought alongside the British as soldiers, as pilots as sailors in the struggle against Nazi Germany.
The new Poles, skilled and unskilled, many with University degrees, worked in hospitals, in offices and in factories, rescued hundreds of British farms from bankruptcy and set up over 80,000 businesses. They contribute up to £2billion annually to the UK economy.
Even though they paid income tax and national insurance and Council tax they were denied a vote in the Brexit referendum which was about their own future.
Now they are literally beached on a foreign shore with their families, their future is blighted Permanent residence is now no longer “automatic” after 5 years residence, their access to NHS and to social services is being challenged, and hate crime and discrimination are on the rise. There are 187,000 Polish children here aged below 14. Their future was tied up with this country, now their world has collapsed. Do they have to give up their British friends as their parents contemplate whether they should stay here or go? Theresa may should be ashamed for those children’s tears.
Other Europeans too have their future blighted. And young people of Britain have been blighted too, disenfranchised and deprived of their European identity and their European ambitions.
Why has this happened?
The government and Parliament, a majority of whom had voted Remain, have been spooked by fanatical Brexiteers who claim they have a democratic mandate for a hard Brexit that threatens us all with a collapsing economy, reduces investment and closes borders as they bay for the blood of anyone who disagrees.
Democratic mandate? In the words of Shania Twain – “That don’t impress me much”.
Initially Hitler had a democratic mandate, Mussolini had a democratic mandate, Putin had a democratic mandate, even Mugabe initially had a democratic mandate.
But these so-called democratic mandates were built on the quicksand of fear and hate and lies, on contempt for minorities and a lust for order and intimidation. A democracy is incomplete unless it is based on human rights and a voice for all its citizens. A true democracy has to have the checks and balances of an independent press and an independent judiciary, who are not referred to as “enemies of the people” whenever Brexiteers dislike their decision.
There is no proper democratic mandate for impoverishing the country, depriving EU citizens of their rights and young British people of their future in Europe.
Now Parliament has authorized the Prime Minister to invoke Article 50. Though we have lost that battle, we have not lost the war.
We must all, Brits, Poles and other EU citizens, remain steadfast. Our eventual victory will come when our luckless Brexiteer negotiators will find that they have proudly slammed the door in Europe’s face and now they are outside, alone, desperately looking for allies, in Turkey, in China, with Donald Trump. The British people will no longer believe the Brexiteers and will search for an alternative. Then we can offer the people of Britain that alternative, a chance to shed their Daily Mail blinkers and see the reality stemming from their decision. Then we can instruct our political leaders to reverse the Brexit nightmare and rejoin the EU.
So keep the fight going until then and good luck
Wiktor Moszczynski - Speech at Unite for Europe Rally 25th March 2017