The Poster That Divided a Nation
During the heated Brexit campaign, Nigel Farage, the then leader of Ukip, launched a poster campaign that would spark controversy and outrage. The billboard poster, unveiled in 2016, depicted a long line of predominantly non-white men queuing up, with the words "Breaking Point" in large red letters on the left and the statement "The EU has failed us all." At the bottom of the poster, it declared, "We must break free of the EU and take back control of our borders." The image used was of migrants crossing the Croatia-Slovenia border in 2015, and Farage used it to highlight what he saw as the issue of open borders and uncontrolled immigration.
Accusations of Inciting Racial Hatred
Not everyone saw the poster as a simple statement on immigration. Dave Prentis, the leader of the trade union Unison, lodged a complaint with the police, claiming that it was a "blatant attempt to incite racial hatred." He argued that the poster perpetuated the harmful stereotype that migration to the UK was only about non-white individuals and accused the Leave campaign of scaremongering. Prentis believed that such tactics had no place in a modern and inclusive society.
Boris Johnson's Distance from the Poster
The controversial poster even caused a rift within the official Vote Leave campaign. Boris Johnson, a key figure in the campaign, distanced himself from the poster, stating that it was "not our campaign" and "not my politics." Johnson, who has always been pro-immigration, believed that taking back control of the UK's borders would help alleviate anti-immigrant sentiment. He emphasized his support for immigration and immigrants.
Nigel Farage's Defense
Nigel Farage staunchly defended the poster, arguing that it was an accurate depiction of the situation at the time. He maintained that the EU's open borders policy posed a security risk and that the image showed young males crossing borders illegally. Farage emphasized that the poster was not about demonizing migrants but about highlighting the potential dangers of uncontrolled immigration.
A Clash in the Jungle
The controversial poster even made its way into the Australian jungle during a discussion on the reality show I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! Fred Sirieix, a contestant on the show and now a presenter for GB News, confronted Nigel Farage about the poster. Sirieix called it "shameful" and accused Farage of demonizing migrants. Farage, however, stood his ground, stating that the poster was true and not intended to incite hatred. The clash highlighted the deeply entrenched differences of opinion on the topic of Brexit.
Beliefs Remain Unchanged
Ultimately, the poster controversy served as a reminder of the deep divisions within the Brexit debate. Nigel Farage and Fred Sirieix held firm to their opposing beliefs, with Farage emphasizing the importance of self-governance and Sirieix arguing that the average person in the UK had suffered as a result of Brexit. The discussion in the jungle shed light on the fact that, even in a different setting, politics can never be far away.