Alan Johnson under fire over Brexit 'extremists' label

Posted On: 
10th May 2016

Labour grandees have stepped up their attacks on Brexit campaigners, as Alan Johnson branded them “extremists” while Lord Blunkett likened their policies to those advocated by Donald Trump. 

Alan Johnson said Brexit campaigners were 'the extremists'
John Stillwell/PA Wire

Mr Johnson, the leader of Labour’s Remain campaign, was joined by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to launch the party’s ‘battle bus’ that will travel around the country ahead of June’s referendum.

Speaking to the Sun at the event, Mr Johnson said: "We are the reasonable people. The Leave side are the extremists.”

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Vote Leave said the attack “demeans” the Remain campaign.

Mr Johnson went on to say it was not “extreme” to back Brexit, but argued that those who criticise the EU unequivocally are unbalanced.

"We can all find things that are wrong with the EU - but they can’t find anything that is right and that suggests a kinda certain mentality that is not rational and not balanced,” the Labour MP said.

"And I think the majority of British people are rational and balanced, moderate approach to this question."

Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith, who made a major speech today advocating a Leave vote in June, hit back at the former home secretary.

“I don't know in what world it is extreme to want your democracy back. It's not extreme to want democratic government in your country,” the former work and pensions secretary said.

“These people in Remain really need to stop throwing threats and ridiculous terms around like this because it demeans them and it demeans the debate.”

Dominic Raab, another Conservative pressing for Brexit, said the Remain camp was “engaged in scaremongering”.

“It is those campaigning to leave the EU that believe Britain can stand on its own two feet and have the ambition and the optimism for the people of this country going forwards,” he told Radio 4’s World at One.

Lord Blunkett, another Labour former home secretary, has also laid in to the Leave campaign for its claims about reclaiming control of borders in the event of Brexit.  

Speaking on the BBC’s Daily Politics, he compared Brexit to US presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s plan to keep Mexicans out of the US by building a big wall on the southern US border.

“You can see a resonance in terms of the crazy idea of building a wall and what we were debating in terms of Britain’s place in Europe, the idea that you could cut yourself off, that you could do things that are rationally unthinkable but in terms of instinct and emotion capture people.”