RACISM and bigotry have no place in our region.

That was the case before the EU referendum result was won by the Leave campaign and it is still the case today.

Voting Leave or having concerns about immigrants does not make you a racist.

There are ignorant, prejudiced people in all walks of life, on both sides of the political divide, and in all communities. Plenty of tolerant, intelligent people voted Leave with a genuine belief that it was the right decision for the future of the country.

The referendum campaign was marked, however, by divisive, xenophobic rhetoric as well as a failure from political leaders to condemn it. There are growing concerns that has led to a situation whereby a few idiots now feel it is suddenly acceptable to express racist views in a way we haven’t seen for decades.

The Echo has started to receive an anecdotal evidence, some of it highlighted in today’s paper and there will be more in tomorrow’s, that anti-immigrant sentiment has been on the increase over the last seven days.

Human rights group Amnesty International said this week that the rise in reports of racial abuse since last Friday had prompted them to launch an emergency campaign to combat racism and xenophobia in the UK.

We’ve heard of a Swedish mum being sworn at and told to go “back to your own country” after being overheard speaking to her children in her native language just yards from her home in York. Polish shopkeepers and factory workers in Consett, who have lived and grafted in Derwentside for years, have noted a sudden shift in attitudes towards them from some people.

If the EU vote has unleashed a small but nasty strain of nationalism that has emboldened racists and bigoted morons then it is the duty of all right-minded people to put these people straight.

The views they express are not British values and they have no place in our country in 2016