Leave.EU founder Arron Banks apologised today for an anti-German tweet featuring chancellor Angela Merkel that was published by the pro-Brexit group.
The tweet featured a picture of Merkel next to the tagline: "We didn't win two world wars to be pushed around by a kraut".
Banks, who initially defended the tweet which was posted yesterday, today accepted that Leave.EU had crossed a line and apologised, albeit grudgingly.
“The Leave.EU team went too far yesterday but the real outrage is the German suggestion that Northern Ireland be separated from the UK. As a result we will delete the post and apologise accordingly,” he said.
Leave.EU communications director Andy Wigmore tweeted: “We have removed the tweets from yesterday that were not appropriate, we went too far and we apologise.”
The group was criticised by both leavers and remainers for the tweet, which was widely described as xenophobic.
Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan tweeted at Wigmore: “Your meme isn’t meant as a joke, is grotesquely offensive, and makes you guys look like racist idiots. Is that the look you’re after?”
Brexit Party MEP Richard Tice tweeted: “I am appalled by this stupid and offensive picture by Leave.EU. This absurd behaviour damages all Leavers.”
Pro-Brexit journalist Isabel Oakeshott said: "FFS. This sort of crap does Leavers no favours. Come on Leave.EU - you should know better than this."
Yesterday, minister for no-deal planning Michael Gove condemned the meme after it was raised in parliament.
Independent Group for Change MP Chris Leslie mentioned the tweet as he slammed No 10’s briefing about a phone call between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Merkel.
"Can I urge the minister to pause and reflect on the deliberate dog whistle briefing put out this morning by No 10 against Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, in the phone call apparently as reported between herself and the PM, which of course has then sparked a series of frankly racist attacks against the Germans from Leave.EU and others.
"This is an extremely dangerous course for the government to embark on," Leslie said.
Gove said: "I take this opportunity to entirely disassociate myself from any racist or demeaning language against Germany.
"They are our friends, they are our allies, they are a great country."
Photo credit: Leave.EU