If I told you that the largest immigrant group in the UK were the targets of the wrath of triumphant British nationalists in the days after Brexit, you wouldn’t be surprised. But you might be surprised if I told you that this minority looked like this…
“With an estimated headcount of 850,000,” writes Adam Taylor for the Washington Post, “Polish citizens are the largest group of foreign citizens in the country.”
Poland joined in the EU in 2004, when 10 countries were added to the union. Polish citizens gained the ability to move to and work in any EU member, which included the UK (in case you forgot, the UK is the combination of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, but not the Republic of Ireland). Since then, about 2 million Poles have emigrated to EU countries like Germany and Ireland, but many headed for the UK.
Along with this diaspora came the derogatory term “Polish Plumber”. First used — quite unsurprisingly — by the editor of Charlie Hebdo, it encapsulates concerns about the cheap labor suddenly unleashed upon Europe with the sudden addition of many eastern Europeans to the market. The stereotype isn’t all that different from the North American one about dark-skinned people undercutting the prices charged by dyed-in-the-wool locals. The use of the term “Polish Plumber” is widespread enough to have earned it a Wikipedia entry.
“They took err jerbs!” isn’t a battle cry that’s limited to the U.S.; it’s used in the UK as well. Consider this ad by UKIP (the UK Independence Party, whose leader, human trash fire Nigel Farage, you may have seen in the news lately):
This ad was controversial for a number of reasons, including the fact that the unemployed worker in the ad is an Irish actor. Remember, American friends, he’s Irish, not British. There’s a difference:
A number of Polish families in Cambridgeshire found these racist laminated cards in their mailboxes recently, written in both English and Polish:
Immigrants from Poland aren’t the only victims of this white-on-white pile-on:
I’m afraid it’s going to get worse before it gets better.