LONDON (AP) — Former London Mayor Boris Johnson expressed disapproval Tuesday over a poster showing a column of migrants wishing to enter the European Union — a view that underscores a deepening rift among campaigners promoting Britain's exit from the 28-nation bloc.
Johnson, one of the most prominent campaigners on the "leave" side, distanced himself from U.K. Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, who has been widely criticized for a poster showing non-white immigrants massing on the borders with the words "BREAKING POINT" emblazoned across it.
Britain's anti-EU campaigners have long been bitterly divided but the squabbles appear to be intensifying as Thursday's referendum draws near. Johnson's Vote Leave won Electoral Commission approval to be the official standard bearer of the campaign, but Farage has fought on nonetheless.
Johnson told LBC radio the poster had "xenophobic undertones" and insisted the official Vote Leave campaign had nothing to do with it.
"I didn't like it," he said. "It seemed to be saying that these were bad people coming to our country. That seemed to be the message. I felt profoundly unhappy with it."
Johnson repeatedly refused to say whether he had spoken with Farage in recent weeks, saying "I want to talk about our campaign."
The poster has caused restlessness on the "leave" side, coming into public view as it did in the hours before lawmaker Jo Cox was killed in a knife and gun attack while working in her Yorkshire constituency.
In an extraordinary session in Parliament on Monday, legislators urged an end to angry and divisive politics in honor of their slain colleague.
The British pound and global stock markets surged as shock at the death of the pro-Europe Cox seemed to sap momentum from campaigners fighting for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.
Billionaire currency trader George Soros piled on in the case for "remain" on Tuesday, warning that a vote for Britain to leave the EU will trigger a plunge in the pound — without benefits that can come with a devalued currency.
In an op-ed piece in Tuesday's Guardian, Soros says a decision to leave the 28-nation bloc in Thursday's vote will cause sterling to drop quickly. Soros predicted the drop will be more dramatic than when Britain crashed out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism in September 1992.
Soros substantially profited — at the expense of the Bank of England and the British government — when the pound lost 15 percent of its value.
He said it is reasonable to assume that after a Brexit vote the pound would fall by at least the same level of 15 percent or possibly more than 20 percent from its present level of $1.46 to below $1.15. The pre-referendum trading range was $1.50 to $1.60
"If sterling fell to this level, then ironically one pound would be worth about one euro - a method of "joining the euro" that nobody in Britain would want," he wrote.
Soros says those who believe a "leave" vote will have no impact on their personal finances are guilty of "wishful thinking."
He said that a large devaluation would hurt the economy for several reasons, the first of which being that the Bank of England would not cut interest rates — which are already at a record low.
Further, Britain's current account deficit is much larger relatively than it was in 1992, meaning that Britain is dependent on foreign capital. With uncertainty dogging the terms of a divorce, Soros argued capital will move in the other direction.
"A post-Brexit devaluation is unlikely to produce the improvement in manufacturing exports seen after 1992, because trading conditions would be too uncertain for British businesses to undertake new investments, hire more workers or otherwise add to export capacity," he said.
Soccer star David Beckham also threw his support behind those campaigning to keep Britain in the European Union, describing Europe as a team that needs to play together to succeed.