Nigel Farage has been criticised by a fellow Brexit campaigner of “outrageous blatant scaremongering” after suggesting women could be at risk of sex attacks from migrants if Britons vote to stay in the EU.
Referring to reports from the New Years Eve attacks in Cologne in Germany that hundreds of women were sexually assaulted, the Ukip leader said the possibility of such attacks in the UK will be "the nuclear bomb" of the referendum campaign.
But Treasury Minister and Leave campaigner Andrea Leadsom said his comments were wrong. “I don't like that sort of campaigning at all,” she told Pienaar's Politics BBC Radio 5 Live.
“However we know for a fact that there was an appalling experience for women over in Germany over the Christmas period…I do not approve of that sort of campaigning, I do not believe in outright blatant scaremongering so I think it's really, really regrettable.
“I haven't seen it and I wouldn't support suggesting if you vote to remain you'd be raped. Obviously that is just an outrageous thing to say.”
Michael Gove, one of the leading figures in the campaign to leave the EU, also refused to associate himself with Mr Farage's comments. The Justice Secretary told ITV's Peston on Sunday: "He's made those remarks and I haven't made remarks like that and I won't make remarks like that."
Mr Farage made headlines during the general election campaign last year when, during a TV debate, he claimed the cost of drugs for foreign HIV patients should instead be spent on cancer drugs for deserving Britons.
"The nuclear bomb this time would be about Cologne," he told the Sunday Telegraph.
In January, reports emerged of allegations that hundreds of women were groped, robbed and intimated at the German city's central station on New Year's Eve. "There are some very big cultural issues," Mr Farage added.
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.”
Asked whether mass sex attacks like those in Cologne could occur in the UK, he said: "It depends if they get EU passports. It depends if we vote for Brexit or not. It is an issue."
Sal Brinton, President of the Liberal Democrats, said Farage had “sunk to new depths in his scaremongering with these remarks, which are completely unacceptable”.
She said: “The debate about whether Britain is better off in Europe is hugely important and should be based on the facts, not shameful attempts to stir up hatred and fear with smears like this. It is disgusting to see a politician make comments like this. He must withdraw these remarks and apologise.”
Ryan Coetzee, the director of strategy for the Britain Stronger In Europe campaign, tweeted: “Disgraceful. Don’t vote for this man’s idea of Britain.”Reuse content