Brexit has penetrated all of society, and revealed surprising cleavages. The Leave campaign owed much of its success to an unexpected reach: it helped that 8 million BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) citizens were politically courted by a previously indifferent status quo.

Through wining and dining, Vote Leave patron Priti Patel sold Britain’s curry ‘moguls’ a Brexit that would see a revival to their industry through an influx of low-skilled workers into the UK. That now seems like a distant prospect given the minimum annual income of £30,000 in the newly proposed ‘Australian style’ points-based migration system. Indeed, it seems that the only impact on our minority communities thus far has been an increase in hate crimes - to an average of 195 per day.

Writing in the Guardian, Oli Khan, one of the ‘moguls’ wined and dined by Patel, reflects that: “Many people in my community feel used. We were taken as fools by the Leave campaign who, once they got what they needed, have deserted us.” The treatment of BAME voters as an expendable resource is outrageous in its own right - but this is just one symptom of a disease plaguing the politics of Brexit.

Nigel Farage’s confused hailing of June 23 as the UK’s ‘Independence Day’ seems to have been interpreted by some people as a return to the days of Britain as an imperial power. In this light, it seems evident that many expected this return to ‘the old days’ to include, or even centre around, all people of colour packing their bags to return ‘home’. Because clearly, in the eyes of too many people, this country isn’t our home yet, and it never will be. Nor will it be the home of my children, or their children, or the generation to succeed them.

I often wonder when the generational succession becomes so far removed from our immigrant roots that we become unequivocally ‘British’ with ‘Pakistani’ heritage. Or will we always be Pakistanis resident in the UK, ‘long-term visitors’? Of course, this mentality does not represent all Leave voters, nor is it a generalisation of the campaign itself. But it is all too real, and certainly influenced how people voted in 2016.

Westminster has struggled to find a response to it, and I myself am often faced with a dilemma when I come face to face with the epitome of my issue with the Leave campaign: people who approach me on my local high street in Watford with the argument that they voted for ‘a return to white England’ and for the ‘P*kis to go home’.

Do I inform them that Pakistani immigration is completely independent from our membership of the European Union? Do I inform them about innumerable contributions made by the Asian community and the rich history of the British Asian community, both in my town and the UK at large? Often, I find myself sidetracked into a history lesson on post-WWII migration, when the UK set up legal channels for citizens of the ex-colonies to come and help rebuild the blitz-ravaged country.

Boris Johnson’s demonstrably false claims to have ‘made no remarks on Turkey’ during the referendum campaign at a speech he gave, one would think his credibility would have come under widespread attack. As much as the Turkey debacle can be overlooked as short-sighted ignorance on Vote Leave’s side, it represents so much more. It provides clear evidence that a toxicity threatening ethnic minorities in the UK runs deep through the veins of the Leave campaign. As a young person born in this country, it has exposed uncomfortable elements of a society I expected so much more of.

A People’s Vote is the perfect opportunity for us to respond to the dirty tactics of Vote Leave. It gives us a platform to have our views heard and respected, not used in someone else’s fear-mongering campaign. It’s an opportunity for us to engage our communities that have for a long time been alienated from the whitewashed benches of Westminster, and show we will not go on being ignored and underrepresented in the political arena.

In a time of populist insurgencies across the world, we must be at the forefront of the fight against the politics of fear and hate. This is my country, and I cannot stand by and watch. On the 23rd I will be marching in London for a people’s vote. If you feel the same, join me.

Ismaeel Yaqoob

Our Future, Our Choice