Nigel Farage below hearth for ‘canine whistle’ assault on Rishi Sunak

Nigel Farage has been accused of using “dog whistle” tactics by suggesting Rishi Sunak does not understand “our culture”.

The Reform UK leader made the claim as he criticised the PM for leaving D-Day 80th anniversary commemorations in Normandy early. He argued that the Tory leader “doesn’t really care about our history, he doesn’t really care – frankly – about our culture”.

Mr Farage today defended his remarks, claiming he was talking about Mr Sunak’s “class” rather than his background as the child of immigrants.

Asked what he meant by that on the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg, he said: “I know what your question is leading at – 40% of our contribution in World War One and World War Two came from the Commonwealth. He is utterly disconnected by class, by privilege, from how the ordinary folk in this country feel. He revealed that, I think spectacularly, when he left Normandy early.

“Out there now there are millions and millions of people who were Conservative voters, traditional Conservative voters, not the red-wallers, who are now thinking ‘Do we go on supporting the Conservatives or do we support Reform?’ This is going to be, I think, the acid test of this election.”

Labour’s Shabana Mahmood said: “She said: “I think this is a classic Nigel Farage trick, lean just enough to signal a bit of a dog whistle and then lean straight back and sound perfectly reasonable and say something good about the contribution that Commonwealth soldiers, ethnic minorities made towards the war effort. We can all see exactly what Nigel Farage is doing, he’s got form, it is completely unacceptable. This is a man that has a track record of seeking to divide communities who just wants to do it with a veneer of respectability whilst he’s at it.”

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said: “It just seems to me that that’s an ill-advised thing to have said. I feel very uncomfortable with that. We’ve had in our country, and it’s a source of great personal pride – as somebody who supported the Prime Minister, wanted him to be the leader of our party and our Prime Minister – that I’ve sat around a Cabinet table that’s the most diverse in history.

“I’m very proud of the fact that we have a British Asian who is right at the top of our Government.”