THE Brexit campaign has been savaged by some of biggest names in Scottish and UK politics for dragging the debate over Europe into the gutter.

The leadership of the Leave side - Ukip's Nigel Farage and Tory MP Boris Johnson - were accused by a cross-party coalition of senior political figures of using "poisonous" and "obscene" language over race and immigration in a desperate bid to win next week's referendum.

READ MORE: Corbyn urges Scots to put thoughts of indyref2 to one side and vote to remain in EU

Alex Salmond, Jeremy Corbyn, Lib Dem grandee Paddy Ashdown, Labour's Peter Hain, former Tory foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the SNP's Humza Yousaf, ex Labour chancellor Alistair Darling, and former Scottish First Minister Henry McLeish, as well as trade union leaders, all condemned the anti-immigration rhetoric of senior Leave campaign figures in a series of exclusive interviews with the Sunday Herald.

With opinion polls pointing to a knife-edge result on June 23, Salmond called on the Remain campaign to mount a robust defence of the benefits migrants from other parts of the EU have brought to the UK, in response to attacks from Ukip and the Tory Eurosceptic right.

HeraldScotland: Former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond who has campaigned for the Brain family to stay in Scotland (Brian Lawless/PA Wire)

Salmond, the SNP's foreign affairs spokesman at Westminster, warned that the rhetoric of the Brexit campaign was being reflected by English football hooligans after fans involved in violence at Euro 2016 were heard chanting “F**k off Europe, we’re all voting out” as well as singing anti-German songs before singing “sit down if you hate the French.”

READ MORE: Corbyn urges Scots to put thoughts of indyref2 to one side and vote to remain in EU

Salmond said: "The Brexiteers are campaigning on two things - immigration and immigration. The face of the Brexiteers is the clownish bumbling of Boris Johnson, but the reflection in the mirror is the twisted rage of a football thug chanting political obscenities at the French police.

"It is imperative that Scotland steers well clear of this poisonous nonsense and the Remain campaign starts confidently articulating the positive contribution that migrants make every hard working day."

Corbyn attacked the "xenophobic language" of Brexiteers such as Farage and Johnson after the two Leave campaign frontmen suggested a vote to remain would lead to a surge in migration.

Farage also came under fire after he suggested that women could be at risk of violence from migrants if Britain stays in the EU, with a warning that mass sex attacks that were alleged to have taken place in Germany last New Year could be the "nuclear bomb" of the campaign.

HeraldScotland: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during a visit to Aberdeen, as he campaigns for a remain vote in the EU referendum

In a sign of growing tensions, Labour MP Stella Creasy, highlighted on social media what she claimed was "disgraceful hatred from the vote leave campaigners" as she claimed Brexiteers leafleting a market in her constituency of Walthamstow, London had shouted abuse at a European worker telling her "she should leave".

READ MORE: Corbyn urges Scots to put thoughts of indyref2 to one side and vote to remain in EU

Boris Johnson also used a TV debate with Nicola Sturgeon to accuse David Cameron of failing to meet his commitment to cut net migration to below 100,000 in his EU re-negotiation, stating "there has got to be democratic consent for the scale of the flows that we are seeing".

Corbyn said the anti-immigration rhetoric dominating the Brexit campaign risked permanently damaging race relations in the UK due to suggestions from Eurosceptics that EU migrants were placing public services under strain.

HeraldScotland: Sturgeon vs Johnson: Scotland moves to EU centre ground with TV debate

He said: "The xenophobic language is alarming and there are all sorts of erroneous claims being made about the NHS for example. Some of the language is intemperate and beyond belief. It's quite dangerous to suggest that migrants are a threat to our public services when in fact a massive contribution is made to our National Health Service by people from overseas. There's a real danger that lasting damage could be done."

SNP MSP Humza Yousaf, a high-profile campaigner against racism and Scottish government transport minister, added: "The language of Farage risks inflaming racial tensions and leaving society with deep-rooted problems long after the referendum."

READ MORE: Corbyn urges Scots to put thoughts of indyref2 to one side and vote to remain in EU

Last night, Farage told the Sunday Herald that the Leave campaign's warnings about a surge in immigration if the UK remains in the EU were "entirely justified".

Farage said: "There's nothing inflammatory about saying that we should be a normal country that controls who goes and stays."

Leave campaigners have claimed that Britain will open the doors to murderers, terrorists and kidnappers from countries like Turkey if the UK remains in the EU.

HeraldScotland: UKIP leader Nigel Farage (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

A Vote Leave poster depicting an EU passport as an open door, with footprints leading through it, claimed: “Turkey (population 76 million) is joining the EU. Vote Leave, take back control.”

Former Lib Dem leader Lord Ashdown accused the Brexit campaign leadership of deliberately stoking-up fears and prejudice against migrants in a desperate attempt to boost support for a Brexit.

He said: "Some of the language we are hearing from the Brexit side is taking on an extremely ugly tone and there are dangerous prejudices being stoked up against immigrants.

"It's being done by a number of anti-EU campaigners in a desperate attempt to win the vote and it's generating prejudices."

Former Labour Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain, a one-time leading figure in the campaign against South African Apartheid, said the Leave campaign had adopted an increasingly racist approach in an attempt to scare voters in the run-up to the June 23 vote.

HeraldScotland: Peter Hain is stepping down as an MP.

Hain said: "There's an increasingly shrill and hysterical voice from parts of the Brexit side, some of which is taking on racist undertones.

"Raising immigration in itself is not racist, but the way in which it is being talked about with supposed threats to women from migrants is obscene.

"The leaders of the Leave campaign have got to take control as Farage and some of the Tory right are resorting to gutter tactics by using incendiary and racist language."

There was also criticism of claims by the Brexit side by former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, a leading pro-EU figure in the Tory party.

He said: "Some of it is pretty indefensible, particularly relating to Turkey. The suggestion that 70 million Turks will be coming to these shores is pretty sordid stuff, as well as being nonsense."

Former Chancellor Alistair Darling, echoing the comments, said: "This is the biggest decision that the UK has taken in 45 years and the debate needs to be cool, calm and considered. The claims about Turkey are ridiculous."

Meanwhile, former Scottish First Minister Henry McLeish said the claims made by Brexit campaign figures were reminiscent of the rhetoric of US Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump.

McLeish said: "There are far too many similarities between Donald Trump and some of the leaders of the Brexit campaign, which is becoming toxic and poisonous."

Former Labour MP Nigel Griffiths, of the Labour Leave campaign, also hit out at Farage and Johnson, saying: "We deplore the language used in whipping up any anti-immigrant sentiment."

Trade union leaders also said the claims made by Brexiteers would make migrant workers in the UK feel under threat.

John Park, assistant general secretary of the Community union, which represents steel workers, said: "The word 'migrant' is now being used as a pejorative term.

"People from overseas working in the UK will feel threatened by some of the language from the Leave campaign."

Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) deputy general secretary Dave Moxham added: "The STUC is deeply concerned at the anti-migrant, and at times down right racist, rhetoric coming from a section of the Leave campaign."

A Scotland Stronger In Europe spokesman said: "People in Scotland and across the UK can reject the politics of intolerance by voting Remain for a progressive Europe - entrenching workers' right, improving the environment, and giving us access to the single market of over 500 million people, which boosts jobs and lowers prices."

The Sunday Herald contacted Boris Johnson but he did not respond with comment.