EU Referendum

Nigel Farage: PM trying to link Jo Cox killing to Brexit campaign

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Media captionNigel Farage accused David Cameron of implying that there was a link between the killing of Jo Cox and the Leave campaign, as Alex Forsyth reports

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has suggested that David Cameron and George Osborne have tried to link the killing of Labour MP Jo Cox to the Leave campaign.

He said there was a "clear implication" from their remarks that Leave had created a "bad atmosphere."

The PM has faced criticism for sharing a link to Mrs Cox's last article, in which she said the UK could better deal with immigration from inside the EU.

He said his comments were intended purely as a tribute to Mrs Cox.

Mrs Cox, 41, was shot and stabbed in Birstall, West Yorkshire on Thursday, shortly before holding a constituency surgery.

MPs and peers returned to Parliament on Monday to pay tribute to the Batley and Spen MP, who leaves behind a husband and two children.

Speaking on LBC radio, Mr Farage said: "I think there are Remain camp supporters out there who are using this 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."

Asked by an LBC listener how he felt about the killing being linked with Brexit, Mr Farage said it was "despicable...but that's what is happening".

He added: "We have a prime minister and a chancellor and other big political leaders in Britain who are scared witless.

"They thought they would win this referendum by a country mile.

"They know it's neck and neck, they know it's down to who turns out on the day to vote, and there is no level of denigration or false association that they will not stoop to, but I think people are intelligent enough to see through this sort of thing."

UKIP donor Arron Banks, meanwhile, told LBC his Leave.EU campaign group had undertaken polling on the impact Mrs Cox's death on public opinion.

Asked if he thought the polling was "tasteless", he said: "I don't think so."

Mr Cameron, during a campaign visit to Cowley, Oxfordshire, was asked whether he was using the MP's death for political advantage.

He said: "What I have been talking about in respect of Jo is what a wonderful human being and great politician and great campaigner she was."

The PM added: "What everyone has been saying, and what I say again, is paying tribute not only to her but the values she lived by and epitomised in public life of tolerance, of service, of community.

"That's what we are saying about her."

'Take back control'

Speaking earlier to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Farage said the EU project was "doomed" regardless of the outcome of Thursday's referendum - but he predicted Leave would win.

The UKIP leader said the EU was a "failing club" that had "divided" northern Europe over the migrant crisis, and "ruined" the south with the euro.

"Why would we wish to be a member of a union where, in the north, [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel's policy is leading to political dislocation... and, in the south, where the eurozone crisis will come back in July, with Greece looking for a third bailout?" he said.

Mr Farage - who is not part of the official Leave campaign - argued that the referendum was a question of "confidence".

"Do we believe we're good enough to run our own country, and make our own laws? I do. We've got to vote Leave to take back control of our lives," he said.

Asked what would happen if Remain won, Mr Farage replied: "If this proposition gets rejected, then we will not be the first country to leave the European Union.

"The Danes, or the Swedes or the Dutch will beat us to it. Believe me, this project is doomed."

But he added: "I think we're going to win because I think those that want to leave have made their minds up and believe in it."

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Mr Farage also defended his party's much-criticised "Breaking Point" anti-EU poster, which showed a long queue of migrants.

On Sunday, Leave campaigner Michael Gove, the justice secretary, joined a number of politicians in attacking the poster, with Chancellor George Osborne saying it had "echoes" of 1930s' literature.

And former Conservative chairman Baroness Warsi said the poster was influential in her decision to switch sides to Remain.

Mr Farage told Today: "I didn't invent that picture. The picture was real, the picture was on the front pages of all our national press last year."

But he said it was "unfortunate timing" that within a couple of hours of its release the "terrible, tragic" killing of Labour MP Jo Cox took place.


On the economy, Mr Farage said he accepted it was about "even-stevens" whether the UK was in or out of the EU, but he said there were other issues which made Leave the right choice.

"I do think there is an issue here called the quality of life," he said.

"If you can't get a GP appointment or your kids can't get a house or you can't get your five-year-old into a local primary school, those are real issues."

Pressed on his post-Brexit trade vision, Mr Farage argued that the UK could continue trading with the EU on a tariff-free basis.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Philip Hammond (r) said a vote to leave the EU on Thursday would be "irreversible"

"If they cut off their nose to spite their faces... no deal is better than the deal we currently have," he said of the EU, and criticised the single market as an "outdated customs union, dominated by big businesses to the extent that it's virtually a cartel".

Speaking ahead of a Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Luxembourg on Monday morning, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said an EU exit would be "an irreversible decision".

"If Britain decides to leave, there will be no going back.

"Britain could never rejoin the European Union at a later date, except on terms that would be unacceptable to it: membership of the euro, membership of Schengen and so on.

"So this is a very, very important decision, and we are very clear that it's in Britain's best interest to remain a member of the European Union," he said.

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