Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has been slammed for saying the Brexit vote was driven by a nostalgia for a time "when faces were white".
Speaking at his party's spring conference today, Cable said young people had been disappointed by the outcome of the EU referendum and that the vote had plunged the country into a "non-violent civil war".
"Too many were driven by a nostalgia for a world where passports were blue, faces were white, and the map was coloured imperial pink," he said.
"Their votes on one wet day in June, crushing the hopes and aspiration of the young for years to come. The excuse for this outrage – a vision of a global Britain signing lots of new trade deals – is a fraud. Far from opening our arms to the world, we will be tearing up preferential trade deals we already have with 27 countries in the EU and 74 outside it."
Communities secretary Sajid Javid tweeted: “Vince Cable so wrong and disrespectful. Should be trying to bring country together, not seeking to tear it apart.”
James Cleverly, Tory MP and deputy chairman of the Conservatives, said: "I thought we had moved on from the prejudiced view that Brexit was driven by casual racism. It certainly wasn't the reason I voted for Brexit.
"We now have an opportunity for the UK to build modern, mutually beneficial cultural and economic relationships with the world. For Sir Vince to dismiss these opportunities show that he is the one who is backward looking."
Prominent backbench Brexiteer John Redwood said Cable's comment was "complete nonsense".
"That is a complete misunderstanding of what was happening," he said. "What doesn't Cable understand about our democracy? Why do these people want to give all our money away? I find it extraordinary."
Tory MEP Dan Hannan said:
Amazing that Vince Cable, who likes to portray himself as reasonable, casually dismisses 17.4m people as racists. Voting Leave was the opposite of nostalgia. We are breaking free from a declining trade bloc and embracing the growing markets across the oceans.