The leader of the right-wing Reform UK party has been accused of “harking back to the 1940s” after he said high levels of immigration were “changing the nature of our country”.
Richard Tice clashed with Christine McAnea, general secretary of the Unison trade union, on BBC 1′s ‘Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg’.
The row came after official figures showed net migration - the difference between the numbers entering and leaving the UK - hit 672,000 in the year to June.
Tice said that was “changing the nature of our country, making us poorer financially and it’s making us poorer culturally”.
But McAnea said: “When I hear people saying things like ‘it will affect our country culturally’ - and I’ve heard you say it before - I don’t even know what that means because we are a country where people come from all over the world.
″I’m the grandchild of migrants from Ireland and my culture of probably very different from yours. It’s an appalling way to turn things into a culture war in this country.”
Asked what he meant, Tice replied: “That sense of Britishness, who we are, our heritage, our history, our Christian values and ethos. That is the base of our single British culture and that’s what we want people to unify under.
“We welcome sensible levels of immigration, but mass immigration - people living in silos, different cultures, is not good for our country.”
McAnea hit back: “This is like harking back to the 1940s or 1950s.”
But Tice said that was “absolute nonsense”.