EU referendum: Nigel Farage's anti-migrant poster like 1930s fascist propaganda, says George Osborne

Mihcael Gove has also attacked the poster from his fellow Brexiteer

Oliver Wright
Political Editor
Sunday 19 June 2016 10:07 BST
Nigel Farage has put immigration at the heart of his Leave campaigning
Nigel Farage has put immigration at the heart of his Leave campaigning (EPA)

Michael Gove and George Osborne have attacked a controversial anti-migrant poster from Nigel Farage designed to convince voters to support Brexit.

The poster, depicting a line of desperate refugees trying to reach Europe, was launched by Farage last week under the headline "Breaking Point".

It was widely condemned by the Remain campaign at the time, but now even Mr Gove – who is leading the Leave campaign – said the poster was entirely inappropriate as part of efforts to persuade voters to pull out of the EU..

“When I saw that poster I shuddered,” he told the Andrew Marr Show. “I thought it was the wrong thing to do.

"I am pro-migration but I believe that the way in which we secure public support for the continued benefits that migration brings and the way in which we secure public support for helping refugees in need is if people feel they can control the numbers overall coming here."

Mr Osborne was equally scathing of Mr Farage's attempts to persuade voters describing it as “disgusting and vile”. He added it had echoes of 1930s propaganda.

The Chancellor told Peston on Sunday: "There are perfectly legitimate concerns about migration, concerns that are felt in every Western democracy in the world.

"But I think there is a difference between addressing those concerns in a reasonable way and whipping up concerns, whipping up division, making baseless assertions that millions of people are going to come into the country in the next couple of years from Turkey, saying that dead bodies are going to wash up on the beaches of Kent, or indeed putting up that disgusting and vile poster that Nigel Farage did, which had echoes of literature used in the 1930s.

Despite his condemnation, Mr Gove defended statements made by the Vote Leave campaign on the number of Turks who could come to the UK if it votes to stay in the EU.

He said such claims were “justified” on the grounds that it was British policy to support Turkey’s membership of the EU.

On the same programme, Jeremy Corbyn also attacked the Ukip poster describing it as “appalling”. He said it showed the extent to which the “far right” had captured the Brexit campaign.

But Mr Corbyn will have irritated the ‘remain’ campaign leadership with his comment that Britain would never be able to control migration from the EU as it was integral to the single market.

While he went on to stress that he didn’t think Britain had “uncontrolled migration”, he nonetheless showed little empathy for Labour voters worried about the effects of EU workers on jobs and public services.

Instead he suggested the Government should introduce a “migrant impact fund” to help communities cope with large levels of immigration.

“I think we’ve had endless years of newspaper headlines blaming everything on immigration,” he said.

“You don’t blame people – bring people together to make a better society for all.”

The poster has been reported to the police under the pretext that it allegedly incites racial hatred.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said the “vile” poster, which depicts a column of impoverished refugees under the text “BREAKING POINT”, breached race laws.

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.

What is Brexit and why are we having an EU referendum?

Does the UK need to take more control of its sovereignty?

Could the UK media swing the EU referendum one way or another?

Will the UK benefit from being released from EU laws?

Will we gain or lose rights by leaving the European Union?

Will Brexit mean that Europeans have to leave the UK?

Will leaving the EU lead to the break-up of the UK?

What will happen to immigration if there's Brexit?

Will Brexit make the UK more or less safe?

Will the UK benefit from being released from EU laws?

Will leaving the EU save taxpayers money and mean more money for the NHS?

What will Brexit mean for British tourists booking holidays in the EU?

Will Brexit help or damage the environment?

Will Brexit mean that Europeans have to leave the UK?

What will Brexit mean for British expats in Europe?

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