How immigrants have enriched the UK culture
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has welcomed immigrants with open arms since the 1950s. In the decades since the Second World War, the UK has transformed into a diverse and multi-ethnic agglomeration. The way immigrants have been valued and respected in the UK is a refreshing change from the unproductive xenophobic rhetoric elsewhere, which we hear so much about these days. Britons realise that immigrants bring not just their skills but also their values. They enrich not just the economy, but the culture as well.
Coastal cities such as Liverpool had black communities dating back to the early 18th century. These were absorbed into the UK’s population when slavery was abolished in 1833. Interestingly much of the UK’s present-day cultural diversity is a legacy of the colonial era. The Commonwealth of Nations is a group of 53 countries spread across the planet, all of which were British colonies at some point. English is widely spoken across the Commonwealth. This created a sizable resource pool of skilled immigrants. This proved useful when at the end of WW2 the UK faced a shortage of workers. Thus the UK has always been cognisant of the fact that immigrants enrich the culture.
Within the last two decades the immigrant population in the UK has doubled. More than 10 million expats now live in the UK, most of which send money online through money transfer operator like Ria Money Transfer to support their families back home. This has massive economic and cultural impacts. London is one of the three biggest economic powerhouses in the world. It has the most migrants of any city in the UK, estimated to comprise 40% of the city’s population. There are hundreds of mosques and temples in the country, in addition to churches. In large cities like London and Cardiff, it is possible to find the most authentic regional cuisine from Warsaw, Delhi or Karachi. English is the third most widely spoken language in the world. In the UK one can meet a hundred different nationalities and hear as many different accents of English. UK culture loves and celebrates cultural diversity. The love for diversity is so fundamental to Britons that to this day they tell Scots, Brits and the English apart! This is a way of showing recognition for each of these unique identities, as against bundling them into a single generalised stereotype.
In June 2016 the UK voted on a referendum called Brexit. The motion to leave the EU was passed by a very slim majority. The idea of leaving the EU was instigated primarily by the country’s political left. One of the issues which politicians repeatedly cited as motivation for leaving was immigration. Politicians told the public that as an EU member the UK could not have control over its immigration policy. The notion that immigration in its prevailing form was economically bad for the UK was defunct from the start. This has been proven time and again since. The country’s government has changed twice since the referendum. After three years the UK’s ministers are still to reach an agreement on a deal. Brexit was bad enough as an abstract idea. The need to enumerate the fate of millions of Britons working elsewhere in Europe has been an eye-opener. The British public has had time to reconsider the realities of the Brexit outcome. A more profound consequence of this process has been the renewal of positive sentiment toward immigration, and its cultural impact.
A report was published late last year about The National Conversation on Immigration. The conversation involved nearly 20,000 participants in 60 locations across the UK. It explored the possibility of building a national consensus on immigration. One of the observations to come out of the report was that public trust and support for the prevailing immigration system has been lacking. This may have been due to the government’s limited success at curbing the flow of undocumented migrants and refugees. Leftist politicians leveraged this lack of trust to misguide public opinion. Brexit may be an opportunity for the UK to formulate an independent immigration policy. However, that won’t resolve the matter of undocumented migration, which is the actual concern. In any case, Brexit has been a wakeup call. Recent events have obligated Britons to articulate their views about immigration. This will bring a revival of the realisation that immigrants truly enrich the UK’s culture and economy.
Joyce Shang is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC. When she’s not writing, she loves to travel, dance and read books.