Has UKIP run a hateful referendum campaign? These 11 comments would suggest so

From Islamophobia to misogyny to bashing refugees, Nigel Farage should be ashamed of his impact on this debate


During his final speech and press conference of the referendum campaign, Nigel Farage defended the tone and nature of UKIP’s campaign.

He claims that he has only been criticised by his opponents because ‘if you take on the establishment and challenge their assertions, that is what happens to you.’

Unfortunately, these 11 statements that he and his colleagues have made in the last three months suggest that there’s a bit more to it than that:


1. Starting with the most obvious, Farage launched a poster last Thursday, showing Syrian refugees crossing the border between Croatia and Slovenia under the headline ‘BREAKING POINT’.

It was heavily criticised as racist, even before Jo Cox was attacked and killed later in the day. Although Farage says he regrets the timing, regarding the ad itself he says:

“I can’t apologise for the truth.”

2. Within hours of bombs going off in Brussels airport and Malenbeek on 22 March, UKIP’s defence spokesman Mike Hookem made an opportunistic statement, claiming the tragedy proved UKIP’s point about free movement. He said:

“This horrific act of terrorism shows that Schengen free movement and lax border controls are a threat to our security. The head of Europol said in February that 5,000 jihadists are at large in the EU having slipped in from Syria.

There are 94 returned jihadists currently living in Molenbeek, Brussels. This fact alone should alert people to the fact that open borders are putting the lives of European citizens at risk.”

3. Farage also used the Brussels attacks to advocate Brexit. He said the attacks made him ‘depressed for the future’ and retweeted Allison Pearson’s description of Brussels as ‘the jihadist capital of Europe’.

4. Continuing on the terrorism theme, both Hookem and Farage have also quoted the head of Europol as saying that 3,000-5,000 jihadists had entered the Schengen zone in the last 15 months. Unfortunately for Farage, moments after he made the claim in the Mirror’s live debate, the head of Europol himself contradicted it.

5. Farage has repeatedly suggested that voting Remain will leave British women more vulnerable to sexual attacks.

“Frankly if we are prepared to accept. . .unlimited numbers of young males, from countries and cultures where women are at best second-class citizens then frankly, what do you expect?”

6. And just in case the Islamophobia in Farage’s comments wasn’t clear enough, UKIP MEP Jane Collins decided to get in on the action.

7. During a discussion on Victoria Derbyshire on 6 June, Collins also retweeted a comment that described a Muslim in traditional garb as ‘a man in a dress’, and accused him of being a Remain campaign plant.

UKIP retweet

8. When Boris Johnson compared the goals of the EU to those of Hitler, some in UKIP feared they were being out-scaremongered. So UKIP MEP Gerard Batten decided to ‘prove’ an even closer link — alleging that, based on three words of translation, the EU looks basically the same way it would under the Nazis.

“In 1942 when the German’s still thought they were going to win the war they produced a report entitled the Europaische Wirtschafts Gemeinschaft – which translates as the European Economic Community.”

9. As Buzzfeed reported, Batten also wrote a leaflet suggesting that:

“The EU intends. . .to import millions more people from Africa and beyond”

10. Another MEP, David Coburn, took a swipe at migrant doctors—who mitigate the NHS’s staffing crisis—asking in ironically poor English:

Does anyone want to treated by a Foreign doctor with a poor grasp of English language? (sic)

11. Coburn, of course, is not only racist, but misogynistic and homophobic too. Having previously been slammed for referring to Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson as a ‘fat lesbian’, during last night’s debate he retweeted this:

Scottish bloke


And so back to Farage. In this morning’s speech he took credit for UKIP having ‘changed the political agenda’ and ‘the political language’.

While that is probably true, perhaps the UKIP leader should consider whether a more hateful, more divided, more prejudiced and aggressive political language is really something to be proud of.

Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin is editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter

4 Responses to “Has UKIP run a hateful referendum campaign? These 11 comments would suggest so”

  1. David Lindsay

    Jeremy Corbyn has said that, if elected on a platform of renationalising the railways (a manifesto commitment under Ed Miliband, never mind under Corbyn), then he would proceed with that, regardless of EU law. Yes, staying in while threatening to break the rules is a bit ridiculous. But can you ever remember a Conservative Leader’s or putative Leader’s threat to break EU law? The EU suits them down to the ground. There is nothing that any of them could ever want to do that could conceivably involve any possibility of breaking EU law. Quite the reverse, in fact.

    Today is our one and only chance to reframe the political debate in this country in terms that do not exclude everything that is not unrestricted neoliberal economics, apparently limitless social liberalism and secular fundamentalism, and the violent spread of those things by means of neoconservative foreign policy, with its remorseless assault on the domestic civil liberties that also cannot be endured by unrestricted neoliberal economics, or by apparently limitless social liberalism and secular fundamentalism.

    The international institutions of that hegemony are primarily the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. Where, as in the United Kingdom, all of those institutions hold sway, then they are effectively interchangeable, and function as a permanent government, over and above any product of the democratic process. The withdrawal of the United Kingdom from that order, and that withdrawal by popular vote, would light the fire of liberty as surely as any historical event that one might ever care to name. But a vote to Remain would ever thereafter cause all opponents, or even merely critics, of that order to be dismissed out of hand, and worse. “You had your chance on 23rd June 2016,” we should be told. “And you blew it.”

    We have our chance on this 23rd June 2016. Let’s not blow it.

  2. john redi

    well said David, and until the labour party gets its own act together with Will straw apologising for sending a email advising supporters to cash in on Jo Cox death, or the labour party denocunes Polly Toynbees disgraceful guardian article that the thick working class,who vote leave are racist and violent and just as responsible for her death as the alleged killer, and then there was the vote remain poster, next to a picture of Jo cox at a memorial in the flower garden yesterday..

  3. CR

    Uncontrolled immigration is a valid issue and the poster was an excellent way of raising that issue.

    If we stay in the EU we will be swamped with yet more third-world immigrants !!!

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