Nigel Farage was under fire last night after claiming there was an “astonishing level” of anti-English hatred in Scotland and that the SNP was “openly racist”.
The Ukip leader alleged that former First Minister Alex Salmond was to “blame” for the hostility and that his successor Nicola Sturgeon had done little to address it.
SNP minister Humza Yousaf branded the remarks “disgraceful” and said they would be offensive to most Scots.
Mr Farage was hounded by protesters during a trip to Edinburgh last year, and his staff have said he would not travel north of the border during the election campaign.
Speaking during a visit to Hartlepool, Mr Farage said: “’The biggest racism I have seen in British politics is happening north of the border where some of the anti-English hatred is reaching a truly astonishing level.
“The SNP are openly racist. The anti-English hostility and the kind of language that is used about and towards English people is totally extraordinary.
“If my supporters behaved in the way that some of those pro-independence supporters behaved in the referendum I’d have been painted out to be the worst person that had been seen for 70 years in British politics.”
He added: “I think the one I blame is Alex Salmond. When I was attacked by a group of thugs in the street in Edinburgh with the most extraordinary anti-English sentiments being shouted, when Salmond was asked whether he condemned that behaviour he didn’t.
“I think it is ironic that all the talk about extremism within British politics is pointed towards Ukip when there are others who are far more guilty.”
Asked if Nicola Sturgeon was also to blame, Mr Farage added: “She hasn’t done anything to stop it, but I haven’t heard her say anything to encourage it.”
Mr Yousaf, the Scottish minister for international development and external affairs, rubbished the claims.
“These disgraceful comments – which aren’t just offensive to the SNP, but to the majority of people in Scotland on current polls – show exactly why the people of Scotland reject Ukip,” he said.”
“Nigel Farage’s politics of fear and intolerance have been exposed in this campaign, and he has still not apologised for David Coburn MEP comparing me to a convicted terrorist merely because I am a Muslim.
“The SNP have been clear that we will be a positive voice for people across the UK – and with progressive policies such as ending austerity to invest in public services and our NHS, we can bring real change north and south of the border. All UKIP have to offer is nasty rhetoric.”