The EU referendum debate has deteriorated into one of the most "divisive and bitter political campaigns ever waged" with some "racists and bigots" directing the Leave campaign, author J K Rowling has said.
In an essay titled ‘On Monsters, Villains and the EU Referendum’ penned for her personal website, Rowling described the rhetoric of the debate as “uglier than any I can remember in my lifetime” with Leave campaign leaders behaving like a “bunch of mini-Trumps” with their “suspicion of brown people, unthinking jingoism and indifference to the warnings of history”.
Although Rowling writes that is “shameful” to suggest that members of the Leave camp are all “racists and bigots”, she argues “it is equally nonsensical to pretend that racists and bigots aren't flocking to the 'Leave' cause, or that they aren't, in some instances, directing it. For some of us, that fact alone is enough to give us pause.”
Rowling discussed her fears over the nationalism that is “on the march across the Western world”, citing Republican Party presidential candidate Donald Trump as a “fascist in all but name", who “has the temperament of an unstable nightclub bouncer, jeers at violence when it breaks out at his rallies and wears his disdain for women and minorities with pride". She added: "God help America. God help us all.”
Rowling said that the recent picture of UKIP leader Nigel Farage standing in front of a poster showing a winding line of Syrian refugees with the caption 'Breaking Point' was “an almost exact duplicate of propaganda used by the Nazis.” She also criticised the Leave campaign for creating a "monster" by presenting immigrants as "foreigners heading for our shores, among them rapists and terrorists”.
Part-French Rowling, who has lived in France and Portugal and studied French and German, described herself as “the mongrel product of this European continent”. She said: “I love having these mulitple allegiances and cultural associations. They make me stronger, not weaker. I glory in association with the cultures of my fellow Europeans. My values are not contained or proscribed by borders. The absence of a visa when I cross the channel has symbolic value to me. I might not be in my house, but I’m still in my hometown.”
Rowling said that although the EU wasn't perfect, it was a "human union".
"From friendships, marriages, families and workplaces, all the way up to political parties, governments and cultural economic unions, there will be flaws and disagreements", she said. "Because we're human. Because we're imperfect. So why bother building these ambitious alliances and communities? Because they protect and empower us, because they enable bigger and better achievements than we can manage alone. We should be proud of our enduring desire to join together, seeking better, safer, fairer lives, for ourselves and for millions of others."
Earlier The Bookseller reported that the book trade's support for the Remain campaign had grown over the course of the debates, with 78% now voting to Remain on Thursday (23rd June). Meanwhile, other leading trade figures have spoken of fears for their business were Britain to vote for Brexit.