Farage defends 'vile and racist' EU poster

UKIP leader says controversial anti-migrant poster "reflects the truth"

Nigel Farage has defended his controversial EU migration poster after it was criticised by Remain and Leave campaigners.

The UKIP leader told Sky News the poster, showing a stream of non-white migrants walking through the countryside under the slogan "Breaking Point," "reflects the truth" about migration and the European Union.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called for the poster to be withdrawn, describing it on the Murnaghan programme as "vile and racist," while Chancellor George Osborne said it had "echoes of literature used in the 1930s".

Campaigners on the Leave side have been equally scathing, with Justice Secretary Michael Gove saying he "shuddered" when he saw the poster and Chris Grayling calling it "wrong".

Mr Farage told Sky's Dermot Murnaghan that the poster - which has been reported to police for alleged racism - would not be appearing again as it was the first in a series of five planned for the referendum campaign's final days.

He said the campaign would not have attracted so much attention had it not been for the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox hours after the poster was launched last Thursday.

He said: "I wish an innocent member of Parliament had not been gunned down in the street and frankly, had that not happened, I don't think we'd have had the kind of row we have had.

He added: "If you see what Chancellor Merkel did last summer by saying 'just come in unlimited numbers' - we do not want to be part of a union that is failing in every regard."

Mr Farage risked a row with his fellow Leave campaigners as he responded to criticism from Mr Gove.

He said: "Michael Gove better take a look at his own posters - pictures of Abu Hamza, warnings about terrorists and murderers coming into Britain at free will."

The party leader's resisting calls to apologise, after it was criticised for politicising the migration crisis.

Earlier, Ms Sturgeon said: "The poster that Nigel Farage unveiled last week was vile and racist...and I hope he does agree today to withdraw that poster, because that kind of sentiment has no place in a civilised debate."

Mr Osborne said: "There are perfectly legitimate concerns about migration, concerns that are felt in every Western democracy in the world. But I think there is a difference between addressing those concerns in a reasonable way and whipping up concerns, whipping up division, making baseless assertions that millions of people are going to come into the country in the next couple of years from Turkey, saying that dead bodies are going to wash up on the beaches of Kent, or indeed putting up that disgusting and vile poster that Nigel Farage did, which had echoes of literature used in the 1930s.

"Do we want a prosperous outward-looking Britain that's leading in Europe or do we want a meaner, narrower Britain that is poorer in all senses of the word?"

Meanwhile, thousands of people in European cities have taken part in events in support of the UK remaining in the Union.

Chains of people hugging and kissing on the cheek formed in Paris, Berlin, and Rome.