Leave.EU apologises for 'xenophobic' tweet about Angela Merkel almost 24 hours later

PUBLISHED: 08:13 09 October 2019 | UPDATED: 12:24 17 October 2019

Arron Banks (L) and Andy Wigmore (R) as Nigel Farage gives a press conference at College Green after the referendum result. Photograph: Isabel Infantes/PA.

Arron Banks (L) and Andy Wigmore (R) as Nigel Farage gives a press conference at College Green after the referendum result. Photograph: Isabel Infantes/PA.

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Billionaire pro-Brexit donor Arron Banks has finally issued an apology for Leave.EU's 'xenophobic' tweet about the German chancellor.

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The original image from Leave.EU and one Twitter users mocked up in response. Photograph: Twitter.The original image from Leave.EU and one Twitter users mocked up in response. Photograph: Twitter.

The pro-Brexit group took to Twitter to claim that Merkel wanted Northern Ireland to "rot inside the customs union" after details of a phone call between the European leader and Boris Johnson were leaked to the press.

They said it was "reprehensible and shows the true colours of our supposed "European allies".

The tweet continued: "Enough of this nonsense, we walk away as an independent, self-governing nation in three weeks' time!"

It included a graphic which said: "We didn't win two world wars to be pushed around by a Kraut."

Leave.EU responded to the initial backlash with this tweet. Photograph: Twitter.Leave.EU responded to the initial backlash with this tweet. Photograph: Twitter.

It provoked a bitter backlash from those on all sides of the debate - with some of the most outspoken including Piers Morgan.

"This is horrible. You don't speak for Britain," wrote the Good Morning Britain presenter.

Writing to Leave.EU's communications director Andy Wigmore, he continued: "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?"

MORE: Politicians slam 'xenophobic bile' about Angela Merkel from pro-Brexit Twitter account

As the tweet gained traction, Leave EU and #NotInMyName started to trend. The post had been seen hundreds of thousands of times.

The group issued a defiant message for the "permanently offended, liberal blue tick brigade" that reported the tweet that Twitter disagreed with claims it was hate speech.

But he next morning Arron Banks, on behalf of the Brexiteer group, finally issued an apology.

In reply to Morgan, he wrote: "The @LeaveEUOfficial 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...@piersmorgan on reflection the point could have been made better."

The group also shared the apology to their account and removed the original tweets.

Their comments were branded "xenophobic" in the House of Commons, where government minister Michael Gove also criticised the remarks.

He said that he wanted to "entirely disassociate" himself "from any sort of racist or demeaning language towards Germany".

"They are our friends, our allies, they are a great country."

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