British finance minister George Osborne said he hoped there would be a "less divisive" debate in the remaining days leading up to the UK's EU referendum on Thursday as the campaign to decide Britain's membership of the European Union restarted after a three-day hiatus following the killing of lawmaker Jo Cox.
Labour's Cox, an ardent supporter of EU membership, was shot and stabbed in the street in her electoral district in northern England on Thursday, shocking Britain and raising questions about the tone of campaigning. A 52-year-old man appeared in a London magistrate's court on Saturday, charged with her murder.
"I hope, because of the tragic death of Jo, we can have a less divisive political debate in our country and particularly in the last few days of this referendum we can have less baseless assertion and inflammatory rhetoric and more reasoned argument and facts," Osborne told journalist Robert Peston on ITV television today.
Immigration and the economy has defined the debate over Britain's membership of the European Union and following the death of Mrs Cox, questions have been raised about the tone of the campaign from both Leave and Remain sides.
"There are perfectly legitimate concerns about migration, concerns that are felt in every Western democracy in the world.
"But I think there is a difference between addressing those concerns in a reasonable way and whipping up concerns, whipping up division, making baseless assertions that millions of people are going to come into the country in the next couple of years from Turkey or saying that dead bodies are going to wash up on the beaches of Kent or indeed, putting up that disgusting and vile poster that Nigel Farage did which had echoes of literature used in the 1930s," Osborne said.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the hit to the country's economy from a vote to leave the EU could be more severe than the most likely scenario forecast by the government.
The finance ministry estimated in May that a vote to leave the EU would mean the economy would be 6 percent smaller within two years than if Britain voted to stay in, inflation would rise more sharply and house prices would be 18 percent lower.
The leader of Britain's UK Independence Party (UKIP), Nigel Farage, who strongly favors a Brexit, told Peston that he had been a "victim" of hatred when asked by Peston how he responded to claims that he stoked up hatred in the EU referendum campaign.
"When you challenge the establishment in this country, they come after you, they call you all sorts of things. And to be honest, we saw the Chancellor a few minutes ago, despite the fact overnight he talked about toning down the rhetoric doing the same thing again.
"All we have said in this referendum campaign is we want to take back control of our lives, take back control of our borders and put in place a responsible immigration policy."
"Quite frankly, when it comes to negativity and rhetoric, we've seen far more of it from the Remain side," he added.