One of the groups campaigning for Britain to leave the European Union has been condemned as “xenophobic” for sharing a controversial video that appears to link immigrants with a reference to a poem about a “vicious snake”
Leave.EU, which is funded by Aaron Banks, posted the two-minute long clip on Facebook on Monday. It features audio of Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican candidate for president, reciting the words to a poem called Vicious Snake.
Alongside the video, Leave.EU wrote: “Donald Trump’s take on immigration… Vote to leave the ‘vicious snake’ that is the EU on June 23rd”. It also carries clips of desperate migrants in countries around Europe and sinister background music.
The video was seized upon by cross-party politicians who labelled it "disgusting" and "xenophobic". Labour MP Chuka Umunna said: “This Leave.EU video, complete with Donald Trump soundtrack is vile and disgusting – not what our country is all about at all”.
In a letter to Vote Leave, the official campaign to leave the EU, Mr Umunna, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, and Conservative MP Nicholas Soames argue that the Brexit camp will be “complicit in a campaign that is increasingly inflammatory in tone” if it does not call for the film to be withdrawn.
“Depicting whole nationalities negatively to a Donald Trump voice-over – a man whose immigration policy is to ‘build a wall’ – is surely beneath us all.
The MPs add: “Donald Trump has failed to disavow the Klu Klux Klan, has called Mexican immigrants ‘criminals’ and ‘rapists’ and has questioned Barack Obama’s legitimacy as President of the United States on the grounds of nationality. His politics have no place in this debate, and yet they seem to be guiding the leave campaign's strategy.
“Border control and the economic implications of immigration are rightly central to this debate over Britain and Europe, but this early and ugly descent in to xenophobia must be stopped.”
The audio in the video appears to have been taken from one of Mr Trump’s campaign speeches at an Iowa rally earlier this year.
A spokesman for Leave.EU said to The Independent: "The first rule of Twitter is that 'retweets are not endorsements'. We're very clear that this is Donald Trump's take on immigration and no-one else's... this video absolutely electrified a topic which was previously very much taboo in the United States, because, while uncomfortable, it is powerful.
"The more the EU and its supporters try to brush immigration under the carpet, the more disaffected voters will feel – and the more likely it is that the debate here will take on an increasingly strident tone."
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