Perspectives Challenges Implications Contemporary


The definition or rather the meaning of multiculturalism depends largely upon the context in which it is discussed. The concept or the idea of multiculturalism constantly varies as more people make their voices and views clear to recurrently an increasing group and audience. Multiculturalism impliedly refers to the diverse perspectives and ideas people tend to develop and maintain through a number of experience and background ranging from racial, gender, ethnic, sexual orientation and class differences in a society (Brighton, 2007). It also involves accepting and promoting different ethnic cultures. Multiculturalism should be aimed at preserving the ideals of equity, equality, freedom and respect for persons and groups as a fundamental principle for the success of a nation. Multiculturalism has caused the United Kingdom a great deal. By 2011, David Cameron, former prime minister, had declared the failure of multiculturalism but nobody, himself included, was clear about or what was supposed to replace the failed multiculturalism (Taylor‐Gooby & Waite, 2014).


History of failed Multiculturalism in the United Kingdom.

As far as Multiculturalism in Europe and specifically in the United Kingdom is concerned, David Cameron stated countries need to wake up to what is happening to them and the need to get to the root of the problem should not be ignored (Hickman, 2011). In what people described as the most important speech in the nine months since Cameron became prime minister, Mr. Cameron stated clearly that multiculturalism policy as advanced by British governments since the 1960s that is based on the doctrine of the right of all groups in Britain to live peacefully by their traditional values had failed to promote and encourage a sense of commonality with regards to identity that is premised on values of human rights, social integration, democracy and equality before the law. Put in other words, multiculturalism had failed and that for any nation to prosper, the idea or the concept of multiculturalism ought to be ignored (Malik, 2011).

In 2011, Cameron blamed the doctrine of state multiculturalism that according to him encourages different cultures to live different and separate lives. Among other effects, Cameron suggested that state multiculturalism had led to the failure of some ethnic cultures to confront the horrors and the atrocity of forced marriage. According to the former premier, state mulculturalism remains the root cause of radicalization, which can and has led to terrorism in United Kingdom and Europe at large (Joseph, 2003).

Multiculturalism on Brexit

Claudia Chipana says that it is not possible and easy to ignore multiculturalism since its entrenchment or abandonment will, to a great extent, define the course of British society in the post-Brexit age. Brexit represents the complete opposite of any attempt to build a society that is inclusive based and premised on the respect of difference, since the idea and the subsequent campaign to leave the European Union ignited both anti-European Union and anti-immigrant sentiments to a larger extent (Outhwaite, 2017). Brexit campaign emerged at a time where in recent decades, multiculturalism in the United Kingdom and Europe has become or subjected to continuous attacks to the extent of being considered and labelled a failed project. However, nothing can be fur from the truth. Brexit and multiculturalism are complete polar opposites that belong to the opposing sides cum ideas of a society and a nation.

Brexit was and is not merely a question of leaving the EU for autocratic or bureaucratic reasons. There were and still are the questions and issues regarding the understanding of the country as a whole featuring its social composition and also diversity. On the one hand, Brexit idea relies on the longing and the desire for a mythical past involving power and greatness (Ashcroft & Bevir, 2016). On the other hand and In contrast, multiculturalism offers and comes with a distinct and unique model of citizenship which recognizes the identity of minorities. At face value, it can be argued that above all odds, multiculturalism has a positive mood towards immigration but not towards Brexit.

However, one cannot mention Brexit in isolation to multiculturalism. Brexit has lost consensus and support among the electorate as a result of a sustained and continuous campaign staged by xenophobic and other populist movements like UKIP (Bhambra, 2017). The conservative party itself has also staged sustained attack on Brexit, having the advantage of being backed by the right-wing media. The referendum in June 2016 directly reflects this position which portrayed a strong populist and anti-establishment course by the leave supporters. It culminated into support for Brexit movement from a very important faction of the traditional and loyal labour working class in cities more so in the North East of England that was hit by unemployment, economic depression and the death of manufacturing (Evans, 2017).

Brexit victory has generated a lot of debate on the future of multiculturalism since the concept already disappeared from the official or national language. A breaking point was in 2010 and it remains iconic in the history of multiculturalism in the United Kingdom when former Prime Minister David Cameron and other European leaders declared the failure of multiculturalism. However, for its continuation, sustainability of a society is important otherwise multiculralism may will end up in serious chaos. It is important that a society should be economically sustainable as well as having a minimum level or degree of social cohesion (Balthazar, 2017). For those against multiculturalism or its critics thereof, this cohesion would only be achieved with both assimilation and an almost entire loss of ethnic minority identity. These should be coupled with the promotion and acceptance of anti-immigrant policies.

It is pre-empted that once article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is made active, the United Kingdom will have fully and completely entered the post-Brexit age. Whatever new relationships are established with the European Union, multiculturalism will continue to be a noble and a viable solution to inter-ethnic related affairs and diversity that are already inherent in British (Ahluwalia & Miller, 2016). Only multiculturalism could serve as a retention wall from future racially mitigated conflicts on ground that the State re-adopts the execution and implementation of integration policies as well as the policy of inclusion. It must be noted that Brexit has already generated a migration problem or issues related to migration for more than three million European citizens residing in the United Kingdom (Brighton, 2007).

It is pre-empted that once article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is made active, the United Kingdom will have fully and completely entered the post-Brexit age. Whatever new relationships are established with the European Union, multiculturalism will continue to be a noble and a viable solution to inter-ethnic related affairs and diversity that are already inherent in British (Ahluwalia & Miller, 2016). Only multiculturalism could serve as a retention wall from future racially mitigated conflicts on ground that the State re-adopts the execution and implementation of integration policies as well as the policy of inclusion. It must be noted that Brexit has already generated a migration problem or issues related to migration for more than three million European citizens residing in the United Kingdom (Brighton, 2007).

As far as policies are concerned, Cameron contends that in future, only organizations that believe in universal human rights and particularly for women and promote integration should be supported with public money. He suggests the idea of active muscular liberalism as a better way to end the theory of multiculturalism. The policy of multiculturalism, which according to Cameron should be abolished due to its double standards nature of allowing others to thrive especially the extremists group (Axel, 2002).

The Citizens’ Rights Directive 2004/38/EC which is normally referred to as the Free Movement Directive defines the right of free movement for persons or citizens of the European Economic Area, which features the member states of the European Union and the republic of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway who are the three European Free Trade Association (EFTA) members. It consolidated and brought together older regulations and directives, and further extended the rights of couples who were unmarried (Vertovec, 2010). It gives European Economic Area citizens the right of free movement and even residence across the European Economic Area, as long as they were not an unnecessary burden on the country of residence and had comprehensive health insurance. The right of residence becomes permanent after five years meaning it does not depend on any precondition any more (Farrar, 2012). The ability of European Union citizens to move freely between member states is basically dictated or is dependent on their employment status as determined by their host state’s government and its labor market, their potential and strict reliance on national welfare systems, and an assessment of their economic self-sufficiency. In this sense, European Union citizenship remains at the core of an individual’s ability to move freely between countries. However, the scope of this freedom of movement and entitlement to equal treatment is restricted and constrained by other factors, normally in the form of conditions and preconditions put in place by member states individually (Malik, 2013).

The 2004 freedom of movement was more of a directive on the right of citizens of the European Union and their family members to not only move but to reside freely within the territory of the Member states. Its introduction was aimed at enhancing the free movement principles for European Union citizens that of cementing the purposive approach to free movement as backed by the European Court of Justice. The attempts by Member States to introduce restrictions or barriers on the free movement of European Union citizens were sought to be redressed and remedied through Directive 2004/38 (Flint & Robinson, 2008). The rationale is that there had to be a balance between the fundamental right for the European Union citizen to freely move throughout the Union and Member States limiting the burden that the citizen may present. The Directive for example supports the European Court of Justice Principles that permit students and those seeking jobs to freely move in the union. However, the Member State reserves the right to restrict and bar the movement of citizens with the purpose of welfare tourism. This is clearly stated in Article 1 of Directive 2004/38, which provides that the State have the right to restrict movement of European Union citizens when there is public policy, public health, or public policy grounds (Joseph, 2003). Thus, the rationale of the Directive can safely be stated was and is to ensure that there is a balanced and a fair model to enhance citizenship rights and while at it, allowing Member States to implement fair restrictions, to allow Member States to protect their own borders.

In 2004, the fifteen states of the European Union welcomed ten new Member States in what was the largest and biggest expansion in the history of European integration. The new Member States consisted of eight countries from the other side of the former Iron Curtain including Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which had still been part of the Soviet Union just thirteen years earlier. At the same time, membership was also granted to the island states of Malta and Cyprus. The enlargement was the target of much economically motivated migration from the Central and Eastern European countries which varied from five (5) million to forty (40) million people (Rutter, 2015). The rate of migration was high because the differences in the standard of living and income between the new Member States and the European Union 15 were huge. During the negotiations for accession, a transitional period was established of seven years so that each old Member State could determine and decide when it was ready to open its borders to individuals from the new Member States. Therefore, free movement for and between all Member States was to be guaranteed by 2011 latest for the individuals or citizens of the countries that joined in 2004. Moreover, immigration at that time was not perceived or viewed as a significant threat in European countries except France where a fictional character was used to fuel and spread fears on how French workers were soon going to be replaced by a flood of migrants from the East willing to work for less (Hickman et al., 2012).

Around seventy (70) percent of migrants from the A-8 have since headed for the United Kingdom and Ireland. Migrants from Romania and Bulgaria have however chosen to go to Italy and Spain. After the 2004 expansion of the European Union, Poland became the largest source of a number of migrant workers among all new Member States. It is estimated that the number of Poles who were temporarily residing in other European Union Member States doubled between the year 2004 and 2007, hitting around 2 million (Hickman et al., 2012). Lithuania on the other hand had the highest number of outgoing migrants relative to the size of its labour force. Generally, the unique histories, economic situations, cultures and government policies in each new Member State played an important role as far as the number of outgoing migrants were concerned. Germany and Austria chose to limit the number of migrants till 2011 (Malik, 2011). In 2000, about 5.1 percent of the total European Union-15 population translating to 19 million people, lived in a country of which they were not a citizen. The majority of these foreign citizens lived in Germany with 37 percent, France 18 percent, and the United Kingdom with approximately 10 percent. According to Eurostat, 31 million foreign citizens lived in the European Union-27 in 2009, comprising 6 percent of the total European Union-27 population. About 11 million, were citizens of another European Union-27 Member State (Malik, 2013).

The effects of the 2004 and 2007 enlargements saw an overall increase in figures for the 2009 count with the two largest national groups in the European Union mobile population being those of Romania (2 million European Union migrants) and Poland (1.5 million European Union migrants). These two groups accounted for 11 percent of all foreign citizens living in the European Union-27 in 2009. The number of foreign citizens living in each country varied from less than 1 percent in Romania, Poland and Bulgaria to 45 percent in Luxembourg. In terms of count, Germany had the highest share of foreign nationals in the European Union-27 at 2.6 million followed by Spain at 2.4 million, the United Kingdom at 1.7 million, France at 1.4 million, and Italy at1.2 million (Joseph, 2003).

The closest thing the United Kingdom traditionally had equated to integration is the idea of multiculturalism where different immigrant communities should be able to preserve and retain much of their distinctive culture and practices in Britain if they wanted to. It’s a word that never misses whenever history of Britain’s integration is mentioned or discussed. Umunna posits that the United Kingdom should move past the laissez-faire multiculturalism that it has favoured in the past (Taylor‐Gooby & Waite, 2014). In 1966, Roy Jenkins, the then Home Secretary of Labour party gave out a speech setting out a policy of multiculturalism even though he was not so direct as he did not use the term. Mr. David Cameron blamed a doctrine of state multiculturalism, which encourages different cultures to live separate lives. According to him, this idea has led to a number of failures including terrorism.

Therefore, integration is not as a flattening process of assimilation but as equal opportunity normally accompanied by the issues of cultural diversity. The integration and assimilation debate concerns majorly what the long term aim should be of a government that has multiple ethnic groups and religion living under its rule. The French, historically, have set out a stall and required that all French people abide by it, while the British have sought to create a market square within which its citizens may choose which stall they want to have (Axel, 2002). That market square is a barrier, more of a space outside within which citizens are not meant or allowed to travel. Yet, even within British policy, there have been various approaches where the Home Office, for example, has adopted the policy of hands-off approach to counter extremism such as terrorism whereas the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills, could be seen to have adopted a more assimilation approach. Global migration on the other hand involves a situation where people go to live in foreign countries, mainly to find work (Rutter, 2015). Most global migration is from developing countries to developed ones. According to estimates from the 2015 United Nations report, in 2013, the United States, Germany, and Russia had the largest number of immigrants of any country, while Tuvalu and Tokelau ranked the lowest.

The problem with the British government in its attempts in seeking to implement an integration strategy based upon or rather on the idea of corralling the citizens rather than enticing it is that the very theory or idea of integration is based upon shared community interaction, whereas the evidence of social attitudes on the other hand suggests that the citizens are becoming more and more separated, isolated, and polarised in the United Kingdom, rather than community based focus (Rutter, 2015). In 2016 for example, Professor Cantle and his counterpart Professor Kaufman authored a study that showed very clearly a trend towards increasing ethnic isolation and division. Their study established and found out that white British individuals moved away from areas when non-white individuals were. Of course, the truth is that there could be a number of reasons for this trend, but whatever the reason, there is no doubt and evidence is clear that the trend is imminent.

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Multiculturalism should be aimed at preserving the ideals of equity, equality, freedom, and respect for persons and groups as a fundamental principle for the success of a nation. Multiculturalism has done the United Kingdom a great deal either way. It has been attributed to the victory of Brexit. It has also been blamed as the root cause of terrorism. As for the 2004 freedom of movement, it remains the best thing that ever happened to the European Union and the foundation of integration and immigration in Europe.


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