Hastings language school concerned about racist attacks post-Brexit

Language school students supporting the Stronger In campaign in Hastings
Language school students supporting the Stronger In campaign in Hastings

A language school boss in Hastings is mostly concerned about the potential for racist attacks against its students as well as the possible impact on her business if the UK leaves the EU.

An increase in attacks against ethnic minorities have been reported across the country since Britain voted to leave the union on last week.

Hastings English Language Centre director Pru Knight said before the referendum it would be a ‘disaster’ if Britain chose to leave and now her fears are increasing.

“My main concern is a lot of the students believe they’re not wanted and there’s a worry about any racist problems,” she told the Observer.

“We’ve not experienced any here but I know some have in other areas.

“But by and large the people of Hastings like the students as they bring income.”

Hastings voted to leave with 55 per cent of the electorate backing Brexit – in Rother, the amount of leave voters was even higher at 59 per cent.

Ms Knight is worried the amount of Eurosceptism in the area may lead to students being targeted and racially abused.

A Polish centre in London was targeted with graffiti, racist laminated cards are reportedly being distributed in Cambridgeshire and numerous hateful comments are being made on social media since the referendum result.

Hearing the result on Friday morning, she said she was ‘absolute dismayed’ to see the result and believes it was the wrong decision.

“We are very concerned and now we have to see how this whole thing works out,” she said.

“It will take at least two years for anything to start anyway but we have a lot of worried students who are concerned about what their status is now.

“It’s probably too early to say what the end result will be and there’s nothing that can be done now.

“They have made their beds and we have to lie in them.”

The impact of leaving the EU is largely unknown but the language school director is concerned as the whole business relies on European students.

They may be put off coming to Hastings due to increased border controls and possible visas if the free movement of people is restricted, as well as potential legal issues.

Host families may also be affected if there are less students but Brexit supporters may argue leaving the EU would open up opportunities for students outside of the EU to visit.

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