You don’t have to be a Brexit bigot to want to take back control

You don’t have to be a Brexit bigot to want to take back control

   December 06, 2018  
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You don’t have to be a Brexit bigot to want to take back control

Matthew d’Ancona’s family are, indeed, fortunate to have bolt-holes to flee to should life in post-Brexit Britain turn rough (Let’s be honest about what’s really driving Brexit: bigotry, 3 December). Those of us not blessed with dual citizenship will just have to make the best of whatever emerges from the Brexit endgame now being played out in parliament.

As we strive to deconstruct the leave-remain divide that has poisoned our politics for the past three years, elementary psychology suggests that we should desist from accusing our opponents of bigotry even if we know or suspect some of them really are xenophobes, racists and “nativists”. Instead, we need to cultivate the civilising arts of what Jonathan Haidt in his book The Righteous Mind calls constructive disagreement, inspired by the words of Baruch Spinoza (Tractatus Politicus, 1676): “I have striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, not to hate them, but to understand them.” David Purdy Stirling

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• I voted to leave. My reasons were unhappiness with the common agricultural policy and common access to our fisheries, but mostly I wanted our politicians to be accountable to the electorate. I have been happy to welcome people from other nations here and especially from our former colonies because I believe that our forefathers colonised purely for their own greed and England’s benefit. Never, have I (or has anybody else, for that matter) seen any letters of invitation from those lands.

My father had the common humanity to invite one of the early Windrush immigrants to our home. He was alone and away from his own family in the Caribbean.

I resent being called a bigot. John Leftwich Brackley, Northamptonshire

• Matthew d’Ancona is right in saying that there is a sufficiency of Britons who just don’t much like people of foreign extraction. A small example from the 1940s – I am 79 now but have never forgotten how I was stopped on my way home from school by the local (female) bullies, who asked me to tell my American mother to stop saying “Hi kids” to them. Sensing their inbuilt prejudice I never told her. But the hate lingers.

My mother’s parents were Slovak, who emigrated to the US at the turn of the century. The family lived with many other Slovak families in Virginia, where, my mother told me, they were subjected to vicious anti-immigrant abuse. She expected more of England. Virginia Sykes Hampton Wick, Middlesex

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David Purdy, John Leftwich, Virginia Sykes, Dan Rainey, Nick Spencer and Rodney Smith
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