NEWS
25/05/2019 07:26 BST | Updated 25/05/2019 16:14 BST

Theresa May Resignation: Caribbean Community Reacts From Brixton

Hours after Theresa May announced her resignation, HuffPost UK strolled through south London and spoke to the public.

The Windrush scandal laid bare to the public a truth that had already been clear for many people – that most politicians had completely lost the trust of the black community. 

Even before the front pages were dominated by the Windrush scandal, many felt that decisions made in Westminster did not serve their interests, and that representation was almost non-existent.

So on Friday afternoon, just after Theresa May announced her resignation, HuffPost UK strolled through Brixton, south London to gauge the views on the latest political drama in one of the UK’s most bustling Caribbean communities.

Following the arrival of Windrush migrants in 1948, Brixton became home to thousands of new residents from the Caribbean and Windrush Square, at the front of the local library, commemorates this history.

As the battle for Windrush victims’ compensation goes on – almost a year after the scandal broke – its devastating impact is not lost on residents and workers in the neighbourhood.

Nor is Theresa May’s role in it, as the architect of the ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy that it stemmed from.

Like any other group, the black community is far from homogenous. Some simply do not care about May, the government, or Brexit. One Rastafarian man, who gave his name as Gilbert, dismissed any conversation about the subject saying he has “no interest in politics, or poli-tricks”.

Another woman, who didn’t want to be named, said she’s long lost interest in UK politics because “it has become a bit of a circus – if it isn’t one thing it’s another.” 

The Telegraph
Brixton Village

But Bridgette, working in a popular local vegan restaurant, Eat of Eden, offered some strong words about the prime minister’s resignation. Like many of the Windrush victims, the 36-year-old was born in the Caribbean and migrated to the UK.

“Wicked woman, she [Theresa May] is. She’s started the Windrush scandal even though black people built England,” she said. “When the country was mash-up after war, they called for we, and when we’ve now built it up, they’re running us out. Immigration built England, so you can’t say you want to get rid of it.”

“Theresa May should have resigned long time [ago] because she doesn’t know what she was doing. In my personal opinion, I don’t know why we’re coming out of the EU – it makes no sense.

“I didn’t watch her resign but I heard it on the news. I am going to drink some wine [and celebrate] when I get home this evening.”

Despite this, Bridgette said that she can see May is “a very strong woman” and she has concerns about who will succeed her.

“Boris Johnson can’t be prime minister, ever. Name someone else but not him. I don’t see any Conservative politician to lead the country – straight Labour, all the way. Corbyn, all way. He’s just like one of us, down to earth, and that’s why I love him.”

Nadine White
Bridgette, 36, who was born in Jamaica and since migrated to Britain. She's rejoicing over May's resignation.

Stall-holder Ina, also Jamaican, became so angry talking about the prime minister’s political legacy that she abruptly cut the interview short, saying “I am very, very angry and I can feel it bubbling over – so let me just leave it there”.

“People are human beings and no one person is different from another, really, and yet still Theresa May and her politician friends have been hell bent on treating black people as though they’re less than anybody else,” said the 67-year-old.

“When it comes to politics and who is affected by it all, black people are generally left out of the discussion. Why? Because we’re not seen as worthy to be involved. When’s the last time a reporter or elected leader came to speak to the local community about how we feel? I don’t recall. 

“There are different shades of ants - red, black, sugar ants; lizards; birds in the sky – all able to go about their business. But, with human beings, it doesn’t work that way; we’re constantly pitted against one another and who drives that? Politicians. They divide people.”

Ina said she thinks May’s resignation was long overdue.

“She nuh listen! Too stubborn. Just because you’re a leader, it doesn’t mean you’re not accountable and shouldn’t take heed of what others say. God will reserve a judgement for those who behave that way.”

At that point, an elderly woman chimed in, grumbling in agreement, and adding “Theresa met her Waterloo” before paying Ina for a bottle of bleach and leaving.

I didn’t watch her resign but I heard it on the news. I am going to drink some wine and celebrate when I get home this evening!

Edward, who migrated to the UK 20 years ago, argued that May’s resignation should trigger a general election to enable democracy to take its course. 

“I don’t know much about the other Conservative candidates, or even Jeremy Corbyn, but I do know that a general election needs to be called now that she’s stepping down. That is the right way to go about things,” the 59-year-old told us.

“It is better to say you jumped than you were pushed; at least that is what Theresa May can say. In my opinion, it was wrong for the referendum to have been called in the first place. While the UK continues to try and figure out what’s what - Europe will continue to laugh at us.”

Overall he said he thought her resignation was a good thing.

“If the people want you out then you have no right to stay,” he said. “The referendum was the first time I haven’t voted - I didn’t see the need for it. We were all misled; the Leave campaign was all at the expense of the immigrant and the idea of Britain becoming great again.

Following talk of Boris Johnson as the favourite to succeed May, 27-year-old Andrea and her friend Shakira burst out laughing. 

If Johnson becomes prime minister, one said, “UK will officially become a comedy show; I don’t know if that will ever happen.”

Though Andrea expressed having some sympathy for the prime minister after a string of humiliating parliamentary defeats, and the implosion of her party, as she tried to deliver Brexit - Shakira said she struggles to feel sorry for her.

“I just can’t forget Windrush - she was responsible for that.”

Nadine White
Shakira and Andrea