Author Afua Hirsch on Brexit

Afua Hirsch, author of “Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging,” discusses Brexit and the current state of affairs in Britain.

Read Transcript EXPAND

It's a difficult climate.

We have got a surge in protest movement. I think tensions are extremely high and the stakes are getting higher the closer we're getting to the day we're meant to be withdrawing from the EU.

It's very difficult to draw a line between legitimate protest which is something that we value as a constitutional principle part of our parliamentary democracy and which can be annoying like the bells we heard behind worry Stuart to the other side of that border which is aggressive behavior designed to intimidate scare even attack people carrying out their democratic duty as MP.

And those of us in public as well who have vocal views that also appear in the media and I think such as yourself and I have also I mean not a day goes by when I'm not the target of hate.

Some of it is violence and threatening and actually what I fear is that this has become so normalized in the past two years that we rarely speak about I rarely report people to the police because it's so frequent and I think there was a change this week because that kind of behaviour which has been happening to many commentators which has been happening to many black MPs, David Lammy Diane Abbott among those who have had horrifically violent messages now that it's happened to somebody who's a well-known member the conservative who it is is and I really with the pictures she's the MP, she a Remainer and also a moderate voice in the Conservative party she was surrounded by extremely violent threatening people who call themselves protesters.

But I would say were thuggish intimidators on her way into Parliament.

And I think for many people that image really took them over the line and made them realise the state of things in a society that hostile behavior has become part of daily life and it cannot be tolerated.

So let's just broaden that out before we get back into the sort of specifics of the Brexit induced social sort of this dysfunction in this country right now you have this kind of tribal ised highly politicized debates which are not debates they are as we've just described either insults intimidation bells what are trying to shut down debate rather than having a debate.

But it's not just here in the United States as well we're in the midst of a government shutdown.

There you see the parallels.

Oh absolutely.

These are cultural phenomena and Brexit is actually very complicated versus the debates going on in Parliament are complex but that's not what we're seeing reflected in these movements.

This is actually a much broader existential questions about identity.

Who gets to be British what our vision for the future of the country is.

If you look at the people who are surrounding Anna Soubry they are people who have been publicly calling for Muslims to be deported for us to take the land back coded for removing people of color from England who have a sense that if you look like me you are not a legitimate British person regardless of your legal status whether you are born here whether you are second or third generation.

About This Episode EXPAND

Christiane Amanpour speaks with furloughed Fire Captain Mark Munoz; British Justice Minister Rory Stewart; author Afua Hirsch; and director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. Michel Martin speaks with Baltimore Police Officer Monique Brown & Alex Long about “Charm City.”