Brexit campaigner Andy Wigmore sparks furious race row

Brexit campaigner Andy Wigmore sparks furious race row with black Remainer Femi Oluwole after saying he ‘looks like Diane Abbott… with more glowing complexion’

  • Brexiteer Mr Wigmore compared Femi Oluwole to the Labour shadow minister 
  • Pro-EU MP Anna Soubry called Mr Wigmore’s comment ‘revolting racist abuse’ 
  • Mr Wigmore was head of communications for the Leave.EU campaign in 2016 

Brexit backer Andy Wigmore has sparked a furious row with Remain advocate Femi Oluwole after saying the black campaigner ‘looks like Diane Abbott’. 

Mr Wigmore, an associate of Nigel Farage and millionaire Brexit campaigner Arron Banks, took aim at Mr Oluwole in a row over the EU election results.  

Questioning Mr Oluwole’s maths, he said: ‘Have you eaten Diane Abbott Femi? 

‘You sound like her, you have a grasp of numbers second only to her AND you even look like her, although you have much more of [a] glowing complexion.’

Brexit campaigner Andy Wigmore (left), pictured in London with his associate, wealthy Leave backer Arron Banks (right), has sparked a furious row with a black Remain campaigner

The Twitter comment appeared to be a reference to Ms Abbott’s much-derided claims about Labour spending during the 2017 election campaign. 

Mr Oluwole reacted angrily to what was immediately condemned as a ‘racist’ tweet, blaming Brexit Party leader Mr Farage for ‘unleashing’ prejudice as leader of the Brexit campaign.  

He won support from pro-Remain MP Anna Soubry, who said: ‘Solidarity with my friend Femi Oluwole. No one should have to put up with this revolting racist abuse. 

‘Wigmore, his mate Farage et al do not represent the majority of British people  and it’s time we stood up to them beginning with reporting this to Twitter and the police.’

Law graduate Mr Oluwole, who was in the frame as a unity Remain candidate for the Peterborough by-election before pulling out, also highlighted Mr Wigmore’s links to Donald Trump. 

Mr Wigmore infuriated Remain advocate Femi Oluwole (pictured) after saying that the black campaigner 'looks like Diane Abbott'

Mr Wigmore infuriated Remain advocate Femi Oluwole (pictured) after saying that the black campaigner ‘looks like Diane Abbott’

Who is Brexit backer Andy Wigmore? 

Born in 1966, Mr Wigmore grew up in the UK but is part Belizean. 

He even represented the South American nation in the 2014 Commonwealth Games, in shooting. 

Mr Wigmore rose to prominence in British politics when he became communications chief for Leave.EU, a pro-Brexit movement ahead of the 2016 referendum. 

Although Leave.EU was not the official Brexit campaign it was seen as playing a significant role in the Eurosceptic triumph. 

Describing Leave.EU’s methods, Mr Wigmore said: ‘Referendums are not about facts. It’s about emotion, and you have got to tap into that emotion.’ 

Mr Wigmore was one of Mr Farage’s entourage when the British politician famously visited President-elect Donald Trump just days after the 2016 election. 

Last year he was recorded saying that Nazi propaganda techniques were ‘very clever’.  

More recently, he has voiced strong support for Mr Trump on Twitter. 

In April he adopted the President’s language to declare there was ‘NO COLLUSION’ and asked: ‘When will the lefties and anti-Trump mob understand this? Same in the UK.’ 

He has also called Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn a ‘hypocrite’ for refusing to attend a state banquet for Mr Trump even though he did go to one for Chinese leader Xi Jinping in 2015.  

Brexit backer Mr Wigmore has taken aim at Ms Abbott before, calling her an ’embarrassment to Labour’.  

He appeared in a much-heralded picture with Mr Farage and the triumphant Mr Trump only days after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. 

Yesterday he shared the picture again, saying he was looking forward to ‘welcoming’ the U.S. President to the UK. 

Mr Trump is set to begin a three-day state visit on Monday and has signalled he would like to meet Mr Farage during his trip.  

The 52-year-old Mr Wigmore was head of communications for the Leave.EU campaign fronted by Mr Farage in the run-up to the 2016 referendum.  

Leave.EU acted as an unofficial pro-Brexit campaign after their rivals Vote Leave were selected as the Eurosceptic movement’s flagship organisation.  

Mr Wigmore and Mr Banks are two of the self-styled Bad Boys of Brexit, with close links to Mr Farage.

They have both come under scrutiny over the Brexit campaign’s alleged links to Russia. 

Last year Mr Wigmore said he initially met officials from the country to talk about bananas. 

He told a Commons committee he talked about fruit with the Russians in his role as a diplomat for the South American country of Belize.  

Both he and Mr Banks acknowledged that they handed the telephone numbers of the Trump transition team to Russian officials after their visit to Trump Tower. 

However, he said he had never accepted money from the Russian government and has dismissed the idea that Russia influenced Brexit, calling it ‘bo******.  

Mr Wigmore, an associate of Nigel Farage and millionaire Brexit campaigner Arron Banks, took aim at Mr Oluwole in a row over the EU election results

Mr Wigmore, an associate of Nigel Farage and millionaire Brexit campaigner Arron Banks, took aim at Mr Oluwole in a row over the EU election results

Describing Leave.EU’s methods, Mr Wigmore said: ‘Referendums are not about facts. It’s about emotion, and you have got to tap into that emotion.’ 

Last year Mr Wigmore claimed he had rejoined the Conservative party along with his associate Mr Banks but the Tories said their applications had been rejected.  

In May 2018 Leave.EU was handed a fine of £70,000 for breaching finance rules in the 2016 referendum. 

After failing to become the lead campaign group for Leave, it had a spending limit of £700,000 but the Electoral Commission found it exceeded that cap. 

Mr Wigmore called the fine a ‘politically motivated attack’.  

Earlier this month the European Parliament said it would investigate claims that his associate Mr Banks had donated £450,000 to Mr Farage after the referendum. 

A firm owned by Mr Banks leased a home in Chelsea for Mr Farage at an approximate £13,000 a month and he was also provided with a £32,000 Land Rover and a driver, a Channel 4 investigation alleges. 

Under EU rules, MEPs must declare payments made to them, or other support given by third parties.   

Andy Wigmore, circled, posed in this photo with Nigel Farage and Donald Trump just days after the Republican's election win in 2016. Also pictured are pollster Gerry Gunster, left, wealthy Brexit backer Arron Banks, second left, and former UKIP candidate Raheem Kassan, right

Andy Wigmore, circled, posed in this photo with Nigel Farage and Donald Trump just days after the Republican’s election win in 2016. Also pictured are pollster Gerry Gunster, left, wealthy Brexit backer Arron Banks, second left, and former UKIP candidate Raheem Kassan, right

The online row last night erupted over the interpretation of last week’s European election results. 

The Brexit Party won the most votes and seats but some pro-EU advocates have suggested that Remainer parties did better than pro-Brexit parties overall.    

Labour’s Emily Thornberry and former spin doctor Alastair Campbell – expelled from the party this week – have both argued along similar lines.  

The Lib Dems, Greens, Change UK and Scottish and Welsh nationalists won more votes between them than the combined efforts of the Brexit Party and Ukip. 

But that sum fails to take account of the pro-Brexit Tories. If they are included in the Brexit column, pro-Leave parties were stronger overall.  

Mr Farage has labelled the Remainer claims ‘tosh’. 

On his radio show Mr Farage held up a Lib Dem leaflet from before polling day in which Labour and the Tories were named as pro-Brexit parties. 

Mr Wigmore said that Mr Oluwole had a 'grasp of numbers second only to Diane Abbott' - an apparent reference to the Labour frontbencher's much-derided interview in 2017

Mr Wigmore said that Mr Oluwole had a ‘grasp of numbers second only to Diane Abbott’ – an apparent reference to the Labour frontbencher’s much-derided interview in 2017 

‘In their leaflets they tell you – the Conservative and Labour parties were choices for a form of Brexit,’ he said. 

‘That shows you some of the trickery that was going on.’

Mr Oluwole however appeared to be making a different calculation. 

He declared that parties opposed to a No Deal Brexit had won a majority of the vote last Thursday – with only Ukip, the Brexit Party and some Tories in favour.   

The Tories’ disastrous result has prompted some leadership candidates to gravitate towards backing No Deal. 

Leadership favourite Boris Johnson was among them, saying that Britain would leave on October 31 ‘deal or no deal’.  

The reference to Ms Abbott dates back to the Labour frontbencher’s 2017 interview in which she could not say how much the party would spend on extra police officers. 

The row last night broke out over the European election results (seen above, each party's vote share in the UK) which have been the subject of differing interpretations

The row last night broke out over the European election results (seen above, each party’s vote share in the UK) which have been the subject of differing interpretations 

She became a target of ridicule but the row has been overlaid with the frequent sexist and racist abuse aimed at her as one of Britain’s few black female MPs. 

A study published in September 2017 showed that Ms Abbott received almost half (45 per cent) of all the abusive tweets sent to female MPs in the run-up to that year’s general election. 

Ms Abbott has criticised Twitter for failing to take action over the ‘highly offensive racist and misogynist abuse’. 

A separate Amnesty International study found that black women were 84 per cent more likely than white women to be mentioned in abusive tweets.  

Mr Oluwole is the chief spokesperson for Our Future Our Choice, a pro-Remain movement for young people. 

He is a law graduate who has worked in Brussels and Vienna and now campaigns for a People’s Vote on Brexit, the movement’s website says. 

Last month he said he had declined an offer to run as a unity Remain candidate in the Peterborough by-election on behalf of the Greens, Lib Dems and Change UK. 

The by-election was triggered after former Labour MP Fiona Onasanya was thrown out of office following her imprisonment for lying about a speeding offence. 

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