Theresa May triggering Article 50 could spark hate crime sure, says human rights watchdog
David Isaac, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, was "hugely concerned" about a backlash against EU citizens living in the UK after the Prime Minister triggers Article 50 of the EU's treaties.
Brexit MPs tonight accused the quangocrat of "unsubstantiated overreaction" and "doom-laden prophecies".
Mr Isaac spoke out at a hearing of the Commons Women and Equalities Committee at Westminster today.
David Isaac was 'hugely concerned' about a backlash against EU citizens in the UK
Doom laden prophecies are the standard response of a small number of deluded remainers. So far they have all been wrong
He said: "We are hugely concerned about what might happen in relation to an increase in hate crime when Article 50 is triggered. And so, to give you examples of what we are seeking to do, we are meeting with groups, we are seeking to insure that there is as much police protection and understanding in relation to hate crimes as is possible.
"And, I think, given our role, I believe, we are uniquely placed to be doing all of this at a time when Britain needs guidance in relation to huge anxiety that resides, not just in relation to non-UK citizens and our visitors, but actually many of our own citizens."
The commission chairman said the EU referendum saw a marked increase in hate crime earlier this year.
Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg was among a list of MPs who shot down the idea of post-Brexit hate crimes
"One of the things that concerns us greatly is the position in relation to the spike in hate crimes since June 23. I've met with the Polish ambassador, my opposite number in Poland, because of the large number of attacks against the Polish community, but I am also in touch with various other groups," he said.
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MPs criticised his comments following the committee hearing.
Tory MP Suella Fernandes, vice-chair of the European Research Group of Eurosceptic backbenchers, said: "Whilst any form of hate crime is totally unacceptable, it is stretch to say it will increase because of the triggering of Article 50.
"This kind of unsubstantiated overreaction is unhelpful and only serves to instil unnecessary fear and division.'
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Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said: "Doom laden prophecies are the standard response of a small number of deluded remainers. So far they have all been wrong."
Nigel Evans, another senior Tory backbencher, added: "It seems to be incredibly irresponsible to say that. Why would there be an increase in hate crime?
"There is absolutely zero reason for that whatsoever."
And Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said any hate crime was "not nearly as big as the outpouring of hate against politicians if we don't trigger Article 50".