Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen should not be allowed to “hijack” the UK’s Brexit vote to boost racist intolerance and hate, Tim Farron has warned.
The Liberal Democrat leader is to use a speech on Wednesday to call for better protections for EU citizens living in Britain, following a spate of racist attacks since the EU referendum vote in June.
His remarks come hours after police revealed they were investigating a possible hate crime motive for killing of a Polish man in Harlow, Essex.
Meanwhile, Theresa May gathers her Cabinet for the first time to discuss ‘Brexit’ in full, with pressure to make clear just whether curbs on migration will be balanced with access to the EU single market.
Ministers will meet at Chequers after No.10 signalled the PM’s determination not to hold a second EU referendum or an early general election to give voters a fresh chance to reconsider the issue.
And Government sources insisted that while MPs will have a ‘say’ over the formal ‘Article 50’ process of qutting the EU, the Commons will not be allowed to hold a decisive vote to stop it.
Farron will tell the IPPR North think tank that many of his friends in his Cumbrian and Lancashire backyard voted ‘Leave’ in the referendum – but partly as a backlash against the wealthy elite rather than against migrants themselves.
“Plenty of my mates voted leave and I can tell you that the majority of those who did vote leave are utterly appalled that Farage, Le Pen and their ilk now seek to claim the result as a victory for their hateful brand of intolerance, racism and insularity. Britain is better than that,” he will say.
“We will not stand by to let Nigel Farage or Marine Le Pen dictate our policy, our direction, or our morality.”
Farage appeared at a Donald Trump rally last week in the US, at which he said he would not vote for Hillary Clinton “if you paid me”.
Le Pen has called the UK’s Brexit vote “the most important moment since the fall of the Berlin Wall” and has predicted “this is the beginning of the end of the European Union”.
Farron will say that Britain remains deeply divided after the 52%-48% vote in favour of the UK leaving the EU.
And he will add that “there’s a new battle emerging..between the forces of tolerant liberalism and intolerant, closed-minded nationalism”.
“We, the political classes, have left a country bitterly divided as a result. Between parents and children, families, neighbours.
“Between the nations of our own union, who have worked and fought together for centuries. Between us and our continental neighbours.
“And now the biggest danger of them all. That because of those divisions, we are in danger of letting malevolent forces hijack the result.”
Reported hate crimes have spiked since the UK voted to leave.
The UK has seen a surge of “celebratory racism” after the Brexit result, as some white Brits feel they have “finally got something,” one academic told HuffPost UK last month.
Farron will also plead with “the many candidates for high positions in Westminster” – including Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith – to join him in vowing to prevent the Government from trying to ‘uproot’ EU migrants in the UK.
He will declare that the tens of thousands of EU migrants who help run Britain’s hospitals and schools should not be kicked out after Brexit.
“We can say to those from other countries who have committed their lives alongside us in the UK: we will stand by you, no matter what.
“Let me just say that again. We will stand by you. As we stood by each other across Europe in the Second World War.”
Farron will end his speech with a tribute to the UK’s history as a haven for incomers.
“Britain is the most sophisticated and welcoming and innovative nation in the world and, in or out, we will stay that.
“And we Liberal Democrats will do whatever we can, in Parliament and outside. To reshape the way the nation works, to bring it back together. To stay civilised. To stay united. Because, wherever we were born, we love our country.”
A new report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, published on Wednesday, found that a “double whammy” of low skills and a lack of opportunity was the primary cause of Brexit.
The study by professor Matthew Goodwin and Dr Oliver Heath found support for Leave was far higher among those with low incomes, the unemployed and people in precarious manual occupations than those in the wealthiest households.