Ms Cooper labelled the Brexit campaigners’ conduct “utterly shameful”, claiming that both men had stoked up concerns about the free movement of people from Turkey, despite knowing that it would not be joining the EU in the near future.
Speaking at a Labour In for Britain campaign event, the former party leadership contender said that Cyprus and Greece would veto Turkey’s accession to the EU, adding that the country had not come close to meeting the criteria for joining.
“[Michael Gove and Boris Johnson] know all of those things, they’re not stupid,” she said. “But they are deliberately manipulating the facts, they are deliberately telling lies, in Boris Johnson’s case for his own personal interest, and it is shameful, utterly shameful. I don’t know how they live with themselves.
“It’s Oxford Union style debating, thinking they can just pull anything out, or like a columnist just saying things for the sake of headlines,” she added. “It’s so irresponsible for community cohesion as well as being irresponsible for this debate.”
Vote Leave has warned repeatedly over the potential for 76 million Turkish citizens to gain the right to work in the UK if the country joins the EU. David Cameron has said in the past that he wants to see Turkey in the EU, but has insisted during the referendum campaign that there is no prospect of it happening for decades. Opposition from Greece and Cyprus, and Turkey’s poor human rights record have all arisen as barriers to eventual accession.
Appearing at the event at London’s Shard building alongside the capital’s Labour mayor Sadiq Khan, the chair of the Labour EU campaign Alan Johnson and former deputy leader Harriet Harman, Ms Cooper called on voters to reject “misinformation and lies” from the Leave campaign.
Mr Johnson, meanwhile, rejected suggestions that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had harmed the Remain campaign by offering only lukewarm support for staying in the EU. While conceding that Mr Corbyn had been a staunch Eurosceptic in the past, he said that the leader had been on a “journey” and was now firmly in favour of staying in.
The most scaremongering arguments for Brexit
The most scaremongering arguments for Brexit
1/7 22 May 2015
In his regular column in The Express Nigel Farage utilised the concerns over Putin and the EU to deliver a tongue in cheek conclusion. “With friends like these, who needs enemies?”
2/7 13 November 2015
UKIP MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire Mike Hookem, was one of several political figures who took no time to harness the toxic atmosphere just moments after Paris attacks to push an agenda. “Cameron says we’re safer in the EU. Well I’m in the centre of the EU and it doesn’t feel very safe.”
3/7 19 April 2016
In an article written for The Guardian, Michael Gove attempts to bolster his argument with a highly charged metaphor in which he likens UK remaining in the EU to a hostage situation. “We’re voting to be hostages locked in the back of the car and driven headlong towards deeper EU integration.”
4/7 26 April 2016
In a move that is hard to decipher, let alone understand, Mike Hookem stuck it to Obama re-tweeting a UKIP advertisement that utilises a quote from the film: ‘Love Actually’ to dishonour the US stance on the EU. “A friend who bullies us is no longer a friend”
5/7 10 May 2016
During a speech in London former work and pensions secretary Ian Duncan Smith said that EU migration would cause an increasing divide between people who benefit from immigration and people who couldn’t not find work because of uncontrolled migration. “The European Union is a ‘force for social injustice’ which backs the ‘haves rather than the have-nots.”
6/7 15 May 2016
Cartoon character Boris Johnson made the news again over controversial comments that the EU had the same goal as Hitler in trying to create a political super state. “Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically.” “The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods.”
7/7 16 May 2016
During a tour of the women’s clothing manufacturer David Nieper, Boris had ample time to cook up a new metaphor, arguably eclipsing Gove’s in which he compares the EU to ‘badly designed undergarments.’ “So I just say to all those who prophecy doom and gloom for the British Business, I say their pants are on fire. Let’s say knickers to the pessimists, knickers to all those who talk Britain down.”
“He’s not the only one who’s changed his mind since 1975,” he said, referring to the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Economic Community, in which Mr Corbyn voted against membership. “There’s a whole legion of people particularly on our side [who have changed their view since then] because Labour was split in 1975 and its united now,” he said.
He dismissed concerns that Labour’s campaign had failed to reach its supporters, following a recent poll which suggested that little more than half of Labour voters know the party backs Remain. He said the party had been forced to “fight to get airtime” because of media interest in disunity within the Tory party.
“I guarantee by the time we get to polling day there won’t be many people, Labour supporters, who don’t know where Labour stands on this,” he said.
Mr Khan, who recently appeared alongside the Prime Minister to campaign for a Remain vote – something Jeremy Corbyn has said he will not do – declined to call for the Labour leader to follow his example, and insisted Mr Corbyn had been “working his socks off” to keep Britain in the EU.
The EU referendum debate has so far been characterised by bias, distortion and exaggeration. So until 23 June we we’re running a series of question and answer features that explain the most important issues in a detailed, dispassionate way to help inform your decision.