Intense campaigning on the June 23 referendum on Britain’s future in the EU resumed in full swing on Monday as Prime Minister David Cameron was accused by the Brexit camp of exploiting last week’s murder of Labour MP Jo Cox to help the Remain camp.
There was an urgency in the air, with the referendum two days away. Cox, a pro-European Union supporter, was murdered in Yorkshire on Thursday, prompting analysts to believe the incident may lead to a sympathy vote in favour of remaining in the bloc.
Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, said: “What we are seeing here is the prime minister and the Remain campaign trying to conflate the actions of one crazed individual with the motives of half of Britain who think we should get back control of our borders and do it sensibly.
“I think there are Remain camp supporters out there who are using this tragic death to try to give the impression that this isolated, horrific incident is somehow linked to arguments that have been made by myself, or Michael Gove or anybody else in this campaign. And frankly that is wrong.”
Downing Street was also accused of orchestrating the “defection” of former minister Sayeeda Warsi from the Brexit camp to Remain. Critics said they were not aware she was part of the Brexit camp.
Announcing her move to the Remain camp, Warsi said she will no longer support the campaign to leave the EU, accusing it of “hate and xenophobia”. Leave campaigners said she was never an active participant in the campaign.
“Why is it people like me, instinctively Eurosceptic who feel the EU needs reform...feel they now have to leave Leave? Because day after day what are we hearing? The refugees are coming, the rapists are coming, the Turks are coming,” she told BBC.
Warsi specifically cited a controversial poster released by Farage last week showing migrants and refugees queueing on the border of Slovenia with the caption “Breaking point” as her key reason for leaving the campaign.
She said the image was “perpetuating a set of lies about who those people are, where they were going, suggesting they were coming to the United Kingdom…This kind of nudge-nudge, wink-wink xenophobic racist campaign may be politically savvy or useful in the short term but it causes long-term damage to communities.”
Warsi, who resigned as a junior foreign office minister under Cameron in 2014 to protest against the government’s policy on the Israel-Gaza conflict in 2014, said Conservative mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith’s campaign in London against Sadiq Khan had been another example of “divisive toxic politics that must no longer be allowed to be successful and although I would have wanted to see a mayor who was a Conservative candidate, it was a relief that campaign did not succeed”.