'You are accusing me of being racist': Watch CNN host's epic battle with backpedaling British MEP
Christiane Amanpour speaks to British MEP Dan Hannan (CNN International/screen grab)

CNN International host Christiane Amanpour grilled a conservative leader of the British campaign to leave the European Union after he claimed that the vote was not a xenophobic effort to limit immigration.


During her interview with Tory MEP Dan Hannan on Monday, Amanpour noted that leaders of the Vote Leave campaign had backtracked on claims that exiting the EU would control immigration.

"I'm hearing a softer, gentler version of what you proposed during the campaign," Amanpour said. "You yourself have sort of stepped back."

"The reason people voted, the majority of them... is to stop immigration into this country," she told the MEP.

Hannan, however, denied changing positions: "I've never, ever said that!"

"You said no free movement of labor," Amanpour insisted. "You're [now] saying that Parliamentary sovereignty could quite easily allow the same number of people to keep coming in? You have got to be kidding me. This whole thing was run on immigration!"

"You guys are accusing me of being a racist!" Hannan complained.

"Did I say that?" Amanpour shot back. "You retract that right now."

To make her point, the CNN host presented clips of a number of voters explaining that they had voted to leave the EU to stop Muslim immigration into Britain.

"If I was relying on CNN as my only source of evidence, I would think that this was a nativist vote, a protectionist vote -- it's the opposite," Hannan said.

"Are you concerned about some of the post-Brexit hate crimes?" Amanpour wondered.

"Oh, come on," Hannan scoffed. "That's our fault? That is an outrageous question!"

"It's an outrageous question?" Amanpour replied in disbelief. "As a politician, are you concerned about some of the fallout? Why is that outrageous?"

"In every society, you have some racist idiots," the lawmaker shrugged. "But for you to suggest without any connections that this is somehow connected, that there were no racists in Britain before."

"I said, 'Are you concerned about the fallout?'" Amanpour repeated.

"And there were never any racists in this country before?" Hannan quipped.

"Let's not be tautological here," Amanpour interrupted.

"What you are suggesting is outrageous!" Hannan exclaimed. "What you are suggesting is that there is a connection between people who voted in our democracy and some of these incidences."

"We have the evidence and I've put it on the air," Amanpour reminded him. "Fifty-seven percent rise in hate crimes since Brexit!"

Watch the video below from CNN International, broadcast June 27, 2016.