Daily Mail

So who’s REALLY being divisive on migration, Sir John?

He attacks Out camp’s tactics... just as pro-EU side release ‘toxic’ leaflet on migrant families

- By Daniel Martin Chief Political Correspond­ent

SENIOR Tory Brexit campaigner­s were accused by Sir John Major last night of employing ‘divisive’ tactics on immigratio­n.

But the former prime minister’s attack was blunted by criticism that the Remain side had itself ‘toxified’ the issue.

It emerged that the Conservati­ve In campaign has put out a leaflet about David Cameron’s renegotiat­ion, saying one of its successes was ‘ the prevention of non-EU families being brought to Britain’.

Sir John criticised Michael Gove over his claims that Britain’s borders will be opened up to another 88million people if it remains in the European Union.

He said the Justice Secretary should be ‘embarrasse­d and ashamed’ at his ‘mischief making’ in warning that future expansion of the 28-member bloc would heap strain on schools, the NHS and housing, as well as raising security concerns.

Sir John also called on Mr Gove, Boris Johnson and Iain Duncan Smith to apologise for ‘ peddling’ false figures about the cost to Britain of being in the EU.

He claimed Brexit campaigner­s were ‘morphing into Ukip’ and fuelling prejudice with dangerous falsehoods on immigratio­n.

But employment minister Priti Patel, from the Leave campaign, said: ‘The day after it was finally revealed that EU migration is even higher than previously admitted, the pro-EU campaign are trying to silence people with legitimate concerns about controllin­g our borders while failing to address the real public concern of the impact of immigratio­n from the EU.

‘At the same time, the Conservati­ve In campaign is putting out offensive leaflets telling British citizens that their family members [in non-EU countries] aren’t welcome here.

‘I know many people will be deeply offended by this – it is exactly the type of rhetoric that toxifies the issue and prevents a sensible conversati­on about legitimate public concerns.’

In a speech to the Oxford Union, Sir John said ‘a bound- ary had been crossed’ by many senior Conservati­ves, and that fear-inducing rhetoric risks provoking long-term divisions in the country.

He raised an article written by Mr Gove in the Mail last month, in which he said: ‘When Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey join the EU, another 88million people will soon be eligible for NHS care and school places for their children.’

Sir John said: ‘I assume this distortion of reality was intended to lead the British people into believing that almost the entire population of possible new entrants will wish to relocate to the UK.

‘If so, this is pure demagoguer­y. I hope that when the heat of the referendum is behind us, the proponents of such mischief making will be embarrasse­d and ashamed at how they have misused this issue.’

He added: ‘As the Leave arguments implode, some of the Brexit leaders morph into Ukip and turn to their default position – immigratio­n.

‘This is their trump card. I urge them to take care – this is dangerous territory that, if handled carelessly, can open up long-term divisions in our society.’

The Conservati­ve In leaflet bears a photograph of David Cameron on the front, under the words ‘In Europe, For Britain’. It lists ten powers it claims are being repatriate­d from Brussels, including: ‘Prevention of non-EU families being brought to Britain.’

Comment – Page 16

 ??  ?? Warning: Sir John has attacked Brexit leaders
Warning: Sir John has attacked Brexit leaders

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