Brexit Party MEP Ann Widdecombe has been criticised for claiming that the fight against Brexit is like the fight slaves faced against their owners.
She made the comments in her maiden speech in the European parliament in Strasbourg, as Nigel Farage laughed along.
She said: “It’s a great honour to speak on behalf of the largest single party in this place.
“And may I say, if I needed any convincing at all that the best thing for Britain is to leave here as soon as possible, it was the way those elections were conducted yesterday.
“If that is this place’s idea of democracy, that is a serious betrayal of every country that is represented here.”
She added: “That is just one of many reasons why Britain is right to be leaving this place, hopefully on Halloween.
“It is right because there is pattern consistent throughout the history of oppressed people turning on the oppressors. Slaves against their owners, the peasantry against the feudal barons. Colonies, Mr Verhofstadt, against their empires and that is why Britain is leaving.”
Politicians at home and abroad lined up to condemn the remarks.
Best for Britain supporter Virendra Sharma MP said: “It’s disgraceful that Ann Widdecombe feels able to use the historical catastrophe of slavery to suit her own agenda.
“Widdecombe is no messiah: she’s another jumped-up populist who loves nothing other than the sounds of her own voice.
“The Brexit Party need to stop turning their backs on helping people. We need to stop Brexit to move past their attention-seeking theatrics.”
Labour MP David Lammy tweeted: “It is impossible to explain how offensive and a historical it is for you to equate my ancestors tearing off their chains with your small-minded nationalist project. Shame on you.”
Dr Rosena Allin-Khan said: “It is disgusting that Ann Widdecombe would reference slavery and colonisation to describe our relationship with the EU. Her and Farage are bankrolled by elites – she’s part of the establishment which has created such a divide in this country.”
And Guy Verhofstadt responded: “Nigel Farage facing some stiff competition as chief clown of the Brexit Party in the @Europarl_EN. By the way, when Widdecombe talks about “colonies liberating themselves from their empires”, is she really referring to the American Revolution of 1776?”
Paul Furbey tweeted: “White upper class people embarrassing our country, comparing us to slaves. So shameful.”
Stephen Bingham said: “Many of the people in that room will have first hand experience of Soviet oppression and will be wondering what planet she is from.”
Ali Milani wrote: “The audacity and sheer temerity of Ann Widdecombe to invoke slavery and the resistance to colonization as the spirit of her Brexit project is incredibly offensive. Truly embarrassing that she sits behind a British flag.”
It follows Brexit Party MEPs turning their backs on the European parliament during a live rendition of the European anthem Ode to Joy.
Widdecombe was followed by newly-elected Liberal Democrat MEP Martin Horwood who delivered a passionately pro-European speech which was applauded by the majority in the chamber.