Monday 23 October 2017

Racists and bigots are flocking to Leave cause - Harry Potter author

British PM David Cameron alongside Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as they leave Parliament to attend a service of remembrance for
Jo Cox in London yesterday. Photo: Getty
British PM David Cameron alongside Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as they leave Parliament to attend a service of remembrance for Jo Cox in London yesterday. Photo: Getty

Ben Riley-Smith

"Racists and bigots" are directing parts of the campaign to the leave the EU, Harry Potter author JK Rowling has claimed, as she criticised eurosceptics for claiming a "tsunami of faceless foreigners" are heading to Britain.

In a 1,700-word essay on the referendum, the Harry Potter author criticises a string of "monsters" she says the Out campaign has created to scare voters into leaving the EU.

She says Nigel Farage's controversial "breaking point" migration poster is "an almost exact duplicate" of Nazi propaganda and brands Leave campaign leaders "mini-Trumps".

Ms Rowling also references "fictional bad guys" such as Lord Voldemort - Harry Potter's nemesis - and Hannibal Lecter in a message that appears to back remaining in the EU.

The message, posted on her website and entitled 'On Monsters, Villains and the EU Referendum', comes just days before polls open across the UK to decide the fate of Britain's membership of the EU.

She writes that "the tales we have been told during this referendum have been uglier than any I can remember" and criticises the In campaign for deploying "bleak facts" and "grim prognostications".

But she reserves her fiercest criticism for the Out campaign. "It is dishonourable to suggest, as many have, that Leavers are all racists and bigots: they aren't and it is shameful to suggest that they are," she writes.

"Nevertheless, it is equally nonsensical to pretend that racists and bigots aren't flocking to the 'Leave' cause, or that they aren't, in some instances, directing it. For some of us, that fact alone is enough to give us pause.

"The picture of Nigel Farage standing in front of a poster showing a winding line of Syrian refugees, captioned 'Breaking Point', is, as countless people have already pointed out, an almost exact duplicate of propaganda used by the Nazis"

She later adds: "The 'Leave' campaign is selling itself as the courageous option. Take a leap of faith, they say. Step off the cliff and let the flag catch you! With the arrogance of a bunch of mini-Trumps they swear that everything will be glorious as long as we disregard the experts and listen to them.

"Embrace the rage and trust your guts, which Nigel Farage undoubtedly hopes contain a suspicion of brown people, an unthinking jingoism and an indifference to the warnings of history."

Ms Rowling also criticises the Brexit campaign for creating a "monster" by claiming "a tsunami of faceless foreigners [is] heading for our shores, among them rapists and terrorists".

She finishes by urging everyone to vote in the referendum, saying: "The ending of this story, whether happy or not, will be written by us."

Meanwhile, the House of Commons met yesterday in "heartbreaking sadness" and "heartfelt solidarity" to pay tribute to Jo Cox, the Labour MP who was killed last Thursday in a gun and knife attack on the street in Birstall, West Yorkshire.

Speaker of the House John Bercow said the killing "in this manner, of this person, our democratically elected colleague" was "particularly shocking and repugnant".

A white rose was placed in Ms Cox's usual place on the Labour benches.

Several of her Labour colleagues, including Heidi Alexander, Stephen Kinnock and Carolyn Harris, were in tears before Mr Bercow began the tributes.

In total silence, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was called to speak.

He said: "Last Thursday, Jo Cox was doing what all of us do, representing and serving the people who elected her. We have lost one of our own and our society has lost one of our very best."

Ms Cox's husband, two young children and family were present, seated in the public gallery. As MPs, all wearing the white rose of Ms Cox's native Yorkshire, wiped away tears, Prime Minister David Cameron spoke of the sadness the country felt at the killing of the "loving, determined, passionate and progressive politician".

He said: "We are here today to remember an extraordinary colleague and friend. Jo Cox was a voice of compassion whose irrepressible spirit and boundless energy lit up the lives of all who knew her, and saved the lives of many she never, ever met."

Irish Independent

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