One of Britain’s main groups supporting the leave campaign has tried to use the Orlando shootings to encourage citizens to vote for Brexit.
Eleven days before the referendum deciding whether Britain will remain part of the European Union, the Leave.Eu campaign, backed by UKIP’s Nigel Farage, released a post utilizing the shootings in Orlando to push their campaign.
Sent from the groups official twitter account, the message claimed the ‘free movement of Kalashnikovs in Europe helps terrorists’.
It also featured a picture, showing what appears to be a group of armed ISIS extremists and a banner saying ‘act now before we see an Orlando-style atrocity here before too long.’
The group quickly deleted the picture, after pro-EU users attacked Leave.Eu for trying to exploit the attack on Pulse, a gay club in Orlando, Florida, which cost 50 lives and saw 53 people injured, some of them seriously.
But people were quick to take screengrabs, which are still circulating on social media and gaining momentum.
Leave.EU deleted their tweet, but have a screengrab for posterity pic.twitter.com/sYwX3NGZNJ
— Mollie Goodfellow (@hansmollman) 13. Juni 2016
Leave.Eu’s founder Arron Banks spoke to the Mirror after the tweet was deleted, but he didn’t apologize for the poster or using the Orlando attack to further their political cause.
‘We have studied at length what the Prime Minister himself has said about Islamist attacks in this country and we are all in agreement,’ he said.
‘We need to tackle ISIS and its exploitation of our good, Muslim communities. We stand side by side with everyone who wants to bring security to our world.’
In a statement, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan – a staunch supporter of campaign group Britain Stronger in Eurpe – described the poster as ‘shameful’.
‘Using the tragic deaths of innocent people to make a political point is simply shameful,’ she said.
‘Leave.EU must apologise for the hurt they have caused and apologise immediately.
‘And Vote Leave [the second major group supporting a leave vote] need to condemn such despicable tactics and make clear that the Orlando attack has nothing whatsoever to do with the EU debate in this country.’
Chris Bryant, Labour’s Shadow Commons Leader, questioned whether the group had ‘sense of common decency’.
‘The wider Leave campaign should condemn it in the strongest possible terms,’ he said.
‘If they do not, they will be endorsing the twisting of the murders of innocent people for political purposes.’