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As a rootless ‘Citizen of the World’, why I back Brexit


I voted Brexit in part for our children, for their mental wellbeing, because extreme multiculturalism does them no good at all.

I know what I’m talking about. My parents were front-line humanitarian aid workers and I was brought up in six countries. Botswana, Zimbabwe, France, Switzerland, America, Turkey and then back to France. My childhood was an endlessly changing kaleidoscope of colours, creeds, cultures and classes, more diverse than even the most ardent diversity-junkie could imagine. They don’t come more ‘Citizen of the World’ than me, and I have no problem declaring that noxious term is nonsense.

By all means travel the world and experience all its wondrous variety in adulthood. Compare and contrast those cultures. Broaden your mind. Expand your horizons. Or, as is more likely, just taste the food. Children, however, not only don’t need to do that, too much of it can be damaging and abusive.

To thrive, children need roots and an identity. They need to know who they are, where they come from, where they belong and what they believe. They get this from growing up in a strong, stable monoculture, where they know, understand and trust the people around them, not a perennially morphing, atomised environment where divergent cultures are forced together and parents are hamstrung in their ability to answer their child’s questions due to the politically correct diktats of the moment.

An example. There is an Algerian girl in my daughter’s London primary school. Several times she has made comments to the effect that all Christians are liars and are not to be trusted, sometimes with the agreement of other Muslim immigrant children. When my upset daughter asks me what her friend means, what am I supposed to say? That Islam does deem Christianity beneath it and the girl will merely be parroting her parents’ views? That this is part of an on-going 1,400-year clash of civilisations? That if her mother’s experiences are anything to go by this is just the beginning of the xenophobia and racism she will face from Muslims?

The school’s response was to say that they will remind the children to be nice to each other. A nice reflection of the ‘there is more that unites us’ mealy-mouthed nothingness that the political class puts out in the face of the mounting evidence that many aspects of its multicultural experiment are not working.

Many have pointed out that much of the problematic immigration and multiculturalism comes from outside the EU, as the more different the culture, the more problematic the cultural clash will be. I agree and I do feel sad that it is European immigrants, who cause the least problems, who are the first to be hit by this retraction of open borders and mass migration – because that is definitely what I think Brexit signifies, the first meaningful salvo in what will be a decades-long renegotiation of the West’s multicultural experiment – so it is worth pointing out that this girl and her extended family are in London because they managed to get French residency rights which, in turn, gives them access to freedom of movement within the entire EU.

Some immigration and diversity is, of course, fine and has worked well. Sometimes it is desirable. It has always happened to some degree. But that’s the key, to some degree. The kind of mass migration we have seen in recent decades is looking more like population displacement and replacement. In three years my daughter’s school has gone from about half British to 20 per cent British. And being locked into an institution which doesn’t allow a democratically elected government to control this is absurd.

My mother, a child psychologist who worked with child soldiers and war-traumatised children, helped draw up the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Among other things this recognises that children have a right to have their national identity preserved and the right to a standard of living that meets their mental, spiritual, moral and social development.

She chose a lifestyle that never gave her own children a national identity and a radical rootlessness that denied them the building blocks of healthy mental, spiritual, moral and social development. All five of her children have had varying degrees of mental health problems, as have all the people I know who were brought up in the same way.

She was entirely oblivious to this, focusing only on other people’s children, and hers is a mentality I see radiating in flashing neon colours from the liberal-Left who also seem to think that the multiculturalism and open borders that they are pushing with fervent religious zeal will result in some saccharine Kumbaya-round-the-campfire. I would love to be wrong, but I would posit that a Balkanised, resentful society more akin to Lebanon or Bosnia is just as likely.

Individuals from different cultures can certainly be friends – at the risk of sounding sarcastic, I’ve had friends from cultures and countries many people have never even heard of, so I’m well aware that difference doesn’t have to be a barrier between two people.

But societies need a reasonable degree of internal cultural cohesion – and definable, defendable boundaries – if they are to function well. In the run-up to June 2016 I realised that if even I was fed up with the endless cultural change ushered in by open borders, when this diversity was all I knew growing up, then how must the average British person feel?

I want to raise a British child, with British values, in Britain, not a Citizen-of-the-world, with endless cultural relativism, in a sea of ever-changing atomised nothingness. Brexit, blunt and imperfect though it may be, is a necessary first step towards securing this.

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Isabel Robeson
Isabel Robeson
Isabel is a writer who grew up in six countries amid the international aid-worker community.

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