• 23 Dec - 29 Dec, 2017
  • Shahed Sadullah
  • London Eye

As the enormity of the mess over Brexit becomes clearer by the day, public opinion on Brexit itself seems to be in the process of a seismic shift. A recent poll has found that now, as many as 51 per cent people think that the UK is better off in the EU, while only 41 per cent feel that Brexit is the better option. Again, the total number of people polled was only 1400 so this too is a small sample and cannot be taken as the final word. But now a series of polls are coming out showing that a serious rethink is on its way.

In the poll mentioned above, a lot of people said they could not make up their mind. This in spite of the fact that newspapers and TV programmes have been full to the point of spilling over on Brexit and begs the question: what are these people waiting for to make up their minds? Signs from heaven are rare these days and one has to go by more mundane guidelines. However, when these people were pushed by pollsters to go for one option or the other, the ultimate result came out to be 55.5 per cent in favour of remaining in the EU and 44.5 per cent in favour of leaving.

It needs to be clarified though that much of this swing away from Brexit is due to the views of people who, although are registered voters, did not bother to vote in the June 2016 referendum. Views among those who voted one way or the other in June last year do not seem to have moved a great deal with 90 per cent still sticking to their guns.

Nevertheless, the shift, such as it is, is beginning to be problematic for the government. It has always been said that if the swing reached the mark where 60 per cent or so favoured staying in the EU, it would then become difficult for the government to deny a second vote on the final Brexit deal, something the government has firmly stood against. In fact, the government was not even inclined to give Parliament a ‘meaningful’ vote on the deal and has only now been forced to do so as it was defeated on this point in its Brexit bill with a dozen Tory MPs voting against the government. In something which is perhaps not even seen in the murky world of Pakistani politics, the so-called ‘rebels’ have received a volley of abuse on the social media, not even excluding death threats. It is very rare for British politics to see such division and while on one level, it is heartening to see that the influence of Pakistan on British life goes so much beyond culinary delights, one is not quite sure if this is the way to go.

As Britain prepares to enter the second round of talks with the EU to determine the future relationship between these two entities, such figures will not be helpful for the British negotiating team – and could well drive the EU team to take up a harder stand. Not that they seem to be in any need of encouragement to do that. •

British-Pakistanis involvement in child abuse

Changing subject, the issue of Asian involvement in the grave offence of grooming under-age girls for immoral purposes has been a sensitive one over the years with many, especially Asians, of the view that it is a form of racism to be identifying crime and criminals on racist lines. But now an Asian think tank has broken the ice and come out with the finding that 84 per cent of people convicted in child grooming gang offences have been Asians. Although their finding does not specify this, but a huge number of these offenders are of Pakistani origin.

The study found that while white child abusers often acted alone, child abusers from Asian backgrounds were more likely to operate in so-called grooming gangs. Its studies found that among the 264 people convicted of grooming crimes in the year 2005, as many as 222 were of Asian descent. That puts the ball in the Asian court and sooner rather than later, there will be calls for the community to ‘do more’ to stop this very worrying trend. On the other hand, a study by the Office of Children’s Commissioner conducted back in 2012 does not quite support the finding mentioned above. The Office of Children’s Commissioner found that 36 per cent of victims of group or gang child abuse identified their attackers as white, 27 per cent as Asian, 16 per cent as black, with 16 per cent unspecified. So the jury is still out on this but the fact that the recent finding is by an Asian organisation will tilt the balance heavily against the Asian community.