The Scottish National Party and its activists are “openly racist” towards the English and Nicola Sturgeon has done nothing to discourage the hostility, Nigel Farage has claimed.
The SNP retorted that all the Ukip leader offered was “nasty rhetoric” and the “politics of fear”.
Mr Farage launched his attack during a campaign visit to Hartlepool, where his party hopes to poll strongly next week. He claimed: “The biggest racism I have seen in British politics is happening north of the border where some of the anti-English hatred is reaching a truly astonishing level.
“The SNP are openly racist. The anti-English hostility, and the kind of language that is used about and towards English people, is totally extraordinary.”
He cited his experience during last year’s independence referendum when he was locked in an Edinburgh pub by police for his protection after being mobbed by demonstrators.
Blaming the former SNP leader, Alex Salmond, for encouraging the scenes, Mr Farage said: “When Salmond was asked whether he condemned that behaviour he didn’t.
“I think it is ironic that all the talk about extremism within British politics is pointed towards Ukip when there are others who are far more guilty.”
He said of Ms Sturgeon: “She hasn't stop anything to stop it. I haven’t heard her say anything to encourage it.”
Mr Farage told ITV News: “If my supporters behaved in the way some of those pro-independence supporters behaved in the referendum I would have been painted out to be the worst person seen for 70 years in British politics.”
The Ukip leader said his party was “all-embracing”, with more black and ethnic minority election candidates than the Liberal Democrats or Greens.
Humza Yousaf, an SNP minister, responded: “These disgraceful comments, which aren’t just offensive to the SNP, but to the majority of people in Scotland on current polls, show exactly why the people of Scotland reject Ukip. Nigel Farage’s politics of fear and intolerance have been exposed in this campaign.”
He said: “The SNP have been clear that we will be a positive voice for people across the UK – and with progressive policies such as ending austerity to invest in public services and our NHS, we can bring real change north and south of the border. All Ukip have to offer is nasty rhetoric.”
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