Tory ministers are poisoning the immigration debate by issuing "offensive" warnings about Britain being "swamped" by immigrants, a senior Ukip figure has warned.
This comes days after defence secretary Michael Fallon warned that the country risked being "swamped by huge numbers of migrant workers" and that many towns "feel under siege", in remarks that he later said were "a bit careless".
But speaking to the Huffington Post UK in Rochester, where polls suggest voters will next month give Ukip their second MP, immigration spokesman Steven Woolfe MEP said that such remarks allow people to "link in xenophobic, racist and other words into the debate".
He went on: "I do sigh at the vocabulary of words such as swamped and all that because I think that hands the debate about immigration and how you manage it and how you look at numbers to those who don't want to discuss it on a sensible, reasonable and balanced basis.
"The use of language is incredibly important to be able to maintain a balanced debate about it otherwise we end up in the line of extremism."
Former Labour home secretary David Blunkett threw his weight behind Fallon in the aftermath of his controversial "swamped" warning, writing in the Daily Mail that it would be "foolish" to deny the problems linked with immigration.
He added: "I believe that both Michael Fallon and I were right to speak out on this issue and voice the concerns of ordinary voters."
However, Woolfe said that ministers like Fallon were "looking at sound bites and how to look good in the press and to the certain parts of the electorate that it [the rhetoric] resonates for."
He said the idea that Tory ministers made such remarks to try and "out-Ukip Ukip" was "offensive", explaining: "Ukip isn't trying to suggest that we've got these kind of extreme levels, we're saying look at the large numbers."
"Four and a half million [immigrants] in 10 years is too many. Quarter of a million in net migration is not something we can manage our economy with. Slow it down and manage it in a sensible way."
"Immigration isn't the sole problem," he stressed. "It's a large problem relating to a large number of issues, it's probably getting to he stage where it becomes a major factor in many decisions but it's never the sole problem.
"If we had unlimited amounts of money, if we had a massive amount of land, if we were the prairies of the 18th century when we could build roads and motorways, then these problems wouldn't be here."
Prime Minister David Cameron told MPs that Fallon was right to correct himself after his controversial immigration remarks.
Fallon had significantly ramped up Tory rhetoric on the sensitive issue with his warning that some areas felt "under siege" and action was needed "to prevent whole towns and communities being swamped by huge numbers of migrant workers".