Merkel warns against 'radical' speech in Brexit debate

17th June 2016, Comments 0 comments

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday urged British politicians to moderate the language used in their campaigns ahead of the Brexit vote, after a popular pro-Europe MP was murdered.

"The exaggerations and radicalisation of part of the language do not help to foster an atmosphere of respect," she said, in response to a question on the killing of the British lawmaker Jo Cox.

"That's why we all value democratic game rules. And we know how important it is to draw limits, be it in the choice of speech, in the choice of the argument but also in the choice of partly disparaging argument," she said, calling for the beliefs of others to be respected.

"Otherwise the radicalisation will become unstoppable," warned the German leader.

Campaigning for Britain's June 23 EU referendum was suspended on Friday for a second day as the nation reeled from the killing.

Some commentators questioned whether the killing could be linked to a campaign that has stoked tensions by touching on issues of national identity and immigration.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in The Hague that "tolerance and freedom of expression is of great importance to enable politicians to do their work."

"We have the freedom to express opinions and as long as these don't fan violence against individuals or groups you can say what you want," Rutte told journalists after a weekly cabinet meeting.

"But I can't tell another person what to do, it depends on their level of development, their upbringing and their norms and values."

He also warned that by attacking the tone of the discourse "you run the risk of detracting from the content."

A 52-year-old man is in custody following the brutal attack, in which Cox was shot two or three times and then repeatedly stabbed as she lay on the pavement, according to eyewitness accounts.

© 2016 AFP

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