Claire Fox

An invitation to carry on insulting me and my fellow Brexiteers

After appearing on Newsnight last week, an #FBPE-monikered keyboard warrior wrote a much liked comment above my picture that read:

“Bat shit crazy, howling at the moon @brexitparty_uk  neo Nazi fascist apologist tries to blame the judiciary. Straight out of the Hitler/Goebbels Handbook. We are living in dangerous times. #stopbrexit #RevokeA50 #SaveDemocracy”.

This was one of the more polite responses. We all know that the internet has become somewhat unhinged and I get a daily dose of such unrestrained invective. But it is a shock when such attitudes spill over into face-to-face encounters.

When I spoke at a debate on Brexit at a festival in Highgate last weekend, a seemingly polite and civilised affair, fellow panelist Labour MP Owen Smith compared my views – in front of a live audience – to those of Enoch Powell: “we could have heard so many of the things that Claire said today from his lips in an earlier era. If she doesn’t want to recognise that, I’m going to tell her she should recognise that because they are precisely the sorts of speeches that we heard from successive generations of right-wing politicians… her political views are dangerous – dangerous for our interests as a country and dangerous for our interests as citizens and human beings in our country and elsewhere”.

As a lifelong anti-racist and anti-fascist, I was incandescent, but I was also aware of what those in the crowd would think of me. If I was a fascist, they’d be entitled to reject normal, reasoned discourse with me. If they believed the accusation, legitimate anti-fascist instincts might kick in – would I deserve a kicking?

In my lifetime, I’ve had my fair share of fighting actual fascists (and being on the receiving end of boots and fists of racist thugs). I know that if people really do believe that a demand for democratic control over borders is interchangeable with closing those borders and racist deportations, then people might over-react.

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