26/05/2016 14:50 BST

Boris Johnson And Vote Leave Castigated For 'Racist' EU Campaign In Run Up To Referendum

He couldn't stand it anymore.

An anti-EU MP has launched attacked fellow Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson, accusing the mayor of making "totally racist" comments that "divided communities" in the run up to next month's referendum

Khalid Mahmood, the British-born Labour MP with Pakistani heritage, said he signed up to the 'Vote Leave' campaign last year but soon left the group after they began pushing a "racist" agenda rather than building a positive economic case for Britain's withdrawal from the EU. 

Mahmood said he took particular exception to the comments made by Johnson on Barack Obama, as the US President travelled to the UK to urge Brits to vote to stay in

Asked at what point he felt he could no longer support 'Vote Leave', he told BBC Newsnight: "The point that came was when the commissioners were considering which would be the [official] leave campaign, and everybody on the leave campaign were trying to hit racist issues.

Mahmood said Vote Leave were trying to use immigration to frighten people 

"Vote Leave decided they were going to concentrate on immigration on a very, very negative basis to try and push and frighten people away on the issue of migration.

"That's why I think most of the BME [Black and Minority Ethnic] community in the UK is pushing very much towards In Europe."

Vote Leave were declared the official Brexit campaign group in April. 

Mahmood hit out at Johnson, after the former London mayor put Obama's intervention in the EU debate down to the "part-Kenyan President's ancestral dislike of the British empire".

Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Johnson was accused of 'dividing communities' in his bid to persuade voters to leave the European Union

The Birmingham Perry Barr MP said: "I think Boris’ exploration of Obama’s heritage and pointing at where he came from is totally racist; and that I think Boris has a lot to apologise in relation to making those sorts of remarks and dividing communities."

'Vote Leave' denied allegations that their campaign had been conducted in a racist manner, saying in a statement:

"We have always said that we want a fairer immigration system, one which allows us to prioritise the brightest and best from around the world, not just people who happened to be born in other EU countries.

"We will continue to make the positive case for voting to leave the EU."