The success of the England football team has rightly been acclaimed throughout the land.

The players and management have been a real credit to an open, outward looking country that is welcoming to all.

Most of the team are descended from migrants to this country, from Marcus Rashford and Raheem Stirling to Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips.

Without immigration, this team would not exist.

The manager Gareth Southgate and his players have condemned racism, homophobia and sexism in all of its forms. They have been fine ambassadors for the country and all that is best about it.

The England team should help spread unity in the country, after the ravaging 18 months of the pandemic.

Prior to that there has been the division sown by the prolonged Brexit process.

Unfortunately, following defeat in the final of the European Championships, the other side of the UK emerged, as the racists surfaced again, subjecting the black players to a lot of vile abuse.

They were condemned from most quarters.

This was the unacceptable face of Britain. Racism has always existed in the UK but had become publicly unacceptable and made illegal by legislation like the Race Relations Act.

However, previous efforts to confront racists and racism merely drove it underground or into more covert forms. It was always still there.

The referendum on EU membership, with its focus on migrants, helped to take the lid off racism once again.

The result, the vote in favour of Brexit, was to effectively give licence to the racists to come back out from under their stones.

That is not to say that all Brexiteers are racists, far from it, but the divisive debate, with its anti-migrant overtones, certainly brought racism back out into the open.

Maybe it is a good thing because now racism is so blatant again, people across the country will need to confront it. This is happening, which is encouraging.

The bravery of the footballers and other in the public eye is to be applauded for the role they have played.

Paul Donovan is a Redbridge Labour councillor for Wanstead village and blogger. See