A group campaigning for Britain to leave the EU briefly posted a tweet Monday warning that EU membership could lead to an “Orlando-style atrocity”, prompting outrage from “Remain” supporters.
“Islamist extremism is a real threat to our way of life. Act now before we see an Orlando-style atrocity here before too long,” read the slogan on a picture featuring what appeared to be Islamic State fighters.
The tweet on the @LeaveEUOfficial account said: “The free movement of Kalashnikovs in Europe helps terrorists. Vote for greater security on June 23. Vote Leave”.
The tweet was taken down around an hour later.
In the wake of the recent Paris and Brussels attacks, anti-EU campaigners in Britain also issued warnings about the free movement of arms and fighters in the bloc. Their opponents say that Britain is not part of the EU’s Schengen free movement zone and therefore has the border checks to prevent such activity. Education minister Nicky Morgan, who supports Prime Minister David Cameron on staying in the EU, reacted on Twitter saying: “This is really shameful”.
Hilary Benn, foreign affairs spokesman for the opposition Labour party which also supports “Remain”, called the tweet “shameful and cowardly”.
“Our best protection against terror is standing together, whether in Orlando, Paris or Brussels,” he tweeted.
Ten days before the referendum, opinion polls indicate that the “Leave” and “Remain” campaigns are neck and neck.
Meanwhile, former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown will defend EU membership to left-wing voters while Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny was also due to begin a tour of the United Kingdom to campaign against Brexit.
“You’ve got to be at the table, you’ve got to be a negotiator. I know from my own experience that that is absolutely essential,” Brown told BBC radio.
Many Labour supporters plan to vote “Leave” due to concerns over levels of immigration from the European Union to Britain.
Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron appeared to have temporarily stepped back from campaigning to allow Labour to make the case to its side. Some analysts believe that support or a lack of it from Labour voters could be decisive to the “Remain” camp’s hopes of victory.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has made only a limited number of appearances in the referendum campaign. “From now until 10:00 pm on 23 June, we will not rest.’’