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Nigel Farage claims 'confected outrage' after Archbishop's criticism of speech

Published 07/06/2016

The Archbishop of Canterbury was giving evidence to the Commons Home Affairs Committee
The Archbishop of Canterbury was giving evidence to the Commons Home Affairs Committee

Nigel Farage accused the Archbishop of Canterbury of "confected outrage" about suggestions staying in the EU could leave the UK vulnerable to mass sex attacks by migrants,

The Most Rev Justin Welby told MPs the Ukip leader was giving "legitimisation to racism" for political ends by using events on New Year's Eve in Cologne to back the case for Brexit.

But Mr Farage denied charges of racism and said the head of the Church of England appeared guilty of making ill-informed knee-jerk reactions to newspaper headlines.

"If ever I saw a case of confected outrage it is this," he told the BBC.

"Clearly the Archbishop read a headline on a newspaper and not what it actually said.

"What I said was that what happened in Cologne on New Year's Eve and subsequent attacks were a real issue in Germany and in Sweden and could become an issue in this referendum. That is all."

Giving evidence to the Commons Home Affairs Committee, the archbishop said that in the past, comments like those by Mr Farage - who described the threat to British women of Cologne-style attacks as the "nuclear bomb" in the referendum campaign - had themselves led to violence.

"I think that is an inexcusable pandering to people's worries and prejudices," he said.

"That is giving legitimisation to racism which I've seen in parishes in which I've served, and has led to attacks on people in those parishes. We cannot legitimise that.

"What that is is accentuating fear for political gain and that is absolutely inexcusable."

Lord Green of Deddington, chairman of Migration Watch UK, which campaigns for tighter immigration controls, told the committee Mr Farage's comments had been a "very mistaken thing to say".

"I think it risks generating suspicions that may not be there. If such incidents do take place, then we will have to react to them but I don't think we should in any way encourage that line of thinking," he said.

Mr Welby - who refused to be drawn on whether he was for Leave or Remain - said claims by the Leave campaign that a vote to Remain could result in large numbers of Turkish immigrants coming to Europe were leading to a "very high level of prejudice" against Muslims in the UK.

"Once you ask a number of questions, you realise it's just fear and there is no evidence of any kind backing up what they are saying, but somehow it all feels very threatening and that results in a high level of prejudice against Muslims, and particularly observant Muslims."

The archbishop reiterated his view that many people had genuine concerns about the impact of mass migration without being racist.

He said it was up to the Government to ensure that the communities affected had the resources they needed to cope - particularly in terms of health, housing and education.

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