UKIP leader Nigel Farage has likened parts of the Scottish nationalism campaign to fascism after being rescued by police when he was mobbed by rowdy protesters shouting “racist Nazi scum”.
Staff were forced to clear the Canons’ Gait pub on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile last night, where Mr Farage was due to hold a press conference near the Scottish Parliament, after it was filled with chanting protesters.
The politician attempted to make an escape by taxi but protesters blocked its path and Mr Farage was forced to return to the pub, where police barricaded the doors against the protesters until officers in a riot van came to his aid.
Speaking about the incident on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, he said: “The idea that Ukip is some kind of horrible, nasty, anti-immigrant, racist party is not something that was evident to the rest of the country, but of course that wasn’t what it was all about.
“It was a demonstration dressed up as being anti-racism but in fact in itself was deeply racist, with a total hatred of the English and a desire for Scotland to be independent from Westminster. I mean, my goodness me, if this is the face of Scottish nationalism it’s a pretty ugly picture.
“The anger, the snarling, the shouting, the swearing was all linked in to a desire for the Union Jack to be burnt and extinguished from Scotland forever. There’s absolutely no doubt who these people were or what they stood for.”
He added: “I must say I have heard before that there are some parts of Scottish nationalism that are akin to fascism but yesterday I saw that face-to-face.
“Either the Scottish media have got to start reporting the truth about some of the extremes of the independence movement or not, but it’s about time they did.”
Asked on BBC Radio Four’s Today programme if he thought the SNP leadership were directly implicated in yesterday’s events, Mr Farage said: “No, but these people were supporters of Scottish nationalism and virulently opposed to the English.”
He added: “I would like to hear Alex Salmond come out and condemn that type of behaviour and I challenge him today to do that.”
Two men were arrested after the protest and Mr Farage was escorted from the scene “to ensure his safety”, Police Scotland said.
Mr Farage was in Edinburgh to promote his candidate Otto Inglis in the Aberdeen Donside by-election.
A spokesman for the pro-independence campaign group Yes Scotland said it condemns all forms of intimidation.
“We had no knowledge or involvement in any of the scenes on the Royal Mile during (Mr Farage’s) visit to Edinburgh,” he said.
“Yes Scotland continues to run a positive campaign and we condemn any and all forms of intimidation.”
An SNP spokesman said: “Anyone who heard the interview with Nigel Farage on BBC this morning would have thought he has completely lost the plot.”