THIS week, a man near a Sunderland nursery told a child that the “banana boat” was coming for them.

This week, the National Front and other far-right groups led a “Victory March” through the streets of Newcastle and hate crime rocketed by 57 per cent.

This week, this world – this is the start of our brave new Britain, already indelibly stained with the hatred of a bold and vocal minority.

In the wake of Brexit, the loud rise of the disaffected far-right has been as swift as it has been inevitable.

Startled by reports of smashed up takeaways in County Durham, of bullied Muslim teenagers, terrified business owners and wounded communities, I began investigating post-referendum racism.

I was repeatedly asked not to by a small number of Brexit supporters jarringly keen to silence the issue.

Taking to social media to ask the people of the North-East about their experiences, I was accused of using puerile pro-Remain tactics to whip-up reaction.

But it’s my job to reflect what’s going on in our region – the internet’s my virtual beat and it’s a valuable investigative tool when collating opinion and anecdotal evidence.

Racist and xenophobic incidents have been directly linked to the referendum and it would be hugely irresponsible to sweep them under the carpet.

These ugly and uncomfortable truths need to be told, we owe it to those affected to acknowledge intolerance and call it out wherever we find it.

Many voters have been left feeling as though they’ve been unfairly tarred with the same brush as a minority of racists demanding the immediate deportation of anyone with a foreign accent.

But while I’m pleased to see so many Brexit voters attempting to distance themselves from racism, I’m incredibly disappointed at those attempting to distance the largely abhorrent Brexit campaign from the issue.

I’ve heard many Brexit backers suggesting that the campaign was not won from racism, but from common sense, a dislike of bureaucracy and the desire to take back control.

But undeniably, the Leave campaign was victorious in no small part because it exploited an ugly strain of xenophobia and targeted fear, prejudice and genuine concern around immigration.

Some of those who don’t like the conflation of racist incidents and Brexit appear to be simply refusing to acknowledge the rapidly escalating issue or fighting to silence it.

At best, they’re being wilfully naïve. At worst, they’re turning a blind eye to the horrifically damaging tactics of irresponsible politicians and personalities who care little about what damage they do in communities they fly in for an hour when it suits them to be seen [looking at you, Boris].

The effects of that conscious and deliberate tactic are already being felt, present in police reports and in a million other incidents that will never be reported, or proved.

England voted to leave the EU and we must live with the consequences of that.

What we shouldn’t have to live with in 2016 is out and out racism, prejudice and hatred.

Generations before us fought hard to eradicate the issue and now’s our time to fight it wherever we find it, no matter what side of the fence we’re sitting on politically