The ad created today by Leave.eu was not only in poor taste - it was a lie.
Given that we are in the final week before the UK's momentous referendum on EU membership, there has been a lot of speculation today about what effect this weekend's tragic event in Orlando will have on the vote.
Some, it appears, were eager to ensure it had an impact. This morning the Leave.eu campaign sent out a tweet with this political ad, with an accompanying message saying the EU allows free movement for AK-47s.
There has been a big backlash against this ad today, with politicians and journalists roundly condemning it as being in poor taste. Late in the day, Leave.eu deleted the tweet.
The reaction to the deletion from Twitter was predictable. “It’s political correctness gone mad!” etc etc. But the tweet and ad weren’t just objectionable because they were in poor taste. They literally made no sense.
The UK has some of the strictest gun laws in the world, and that is an area that is outside EU competence. The UK has different gun laws than its European neighbours, something that you are reminded of with a sign upon entering the country via the train at St Pancras Station. Even if a gun was allowed in another EU country, it can be banned in the UK.
There is nothing about that which is against the free market or freedom of movement.
So the idea presented in the tweet, that the EU is somehow forcing the UK to allow a flood of guns to come into the country, is demonstrably untrue.
Now, if the ad is implying that somehow EU free movement is putting the UK at risk of an “Orlando-style” attack, I would challenge them to explain how. There seems to be a lot of confusion amongst the British public connecting their fears about Muslim immigration to the right for EU citizens to work and live in the UK. This ad is the perfect illustration of how the two issues have become confused in the public debate.
It's a very sad state of affairs.