Labour MP destroys UKIP leader over candidate's rape 'joke' to Jess Phillips

PUBLISHED: 17:32 30 April 2019 | UPDATED: 18:47 30 April 2019

Lisa Nandy challenged UKIP leader Gerard Batten on his continued defence of Carl Benjamin. Picture: BBC iPlayer

Lisa Nandy challenged UKIP leader Gerard Batten on his continued defence of Carl Benjamin. Picture: BBC iPlayer

BBC iPlayer

A Labour MP has laid into the UKIP leader for his continued defence of a candidate's use of rape 'jokes' and racial slurs.

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UKIP leader Gerard Batten bizarrely described Carl Benjamin's tweet that he “wouldn't even rape” MP Jess Phillips as a “remark of non-intent”.

Appearing on BBC's Politics Live, Batten said that the 2016 tweet wasn't a joke, and was a free speech protest intended to goad people into complaining, “because they complain about everything”.

However, Labour MP Lisa Nandy interjected to ask: “It does then beg the question 'who would you rape?'

“How on earth can you make comments like that and not think they're serious and disgraceful?” she added.

Batten said he wouldn't make a remark like that but attempted to further justify Benjamin's tweet because he “had an issue” with Phillips.

He described Phillips “sneering and laughing” at the issue of male suicide, presumably referring to a moment in 2015 when the MP laughed at a proposal for a Commons debate to mark International Men's Day, where men's suicide rates were mentioned.

“She was also trying to close down free speech on the internet,” he said, without elaborating.

“Basically you've done what you've done all the way through this interview, which is completely misrepresent that,” said Nandy. “You are just lying to people.

“But the other problem is that you don't seem to think for a minute that there is a problem with one of your candidates making jokes about rape.”

MORE: Rape tweet to MP was 'satire', says UKIP leader

MORE: UKIP leader storms out of interview over defence of 'rape tweet' candidate

The tweet caused UKIP candidate and MEP Jane Collins to step down as a candidate, saying she found Benjamin's candidacy and Batten's defence of him “disgusting”.

Batten then went on to repeat his previous defence of Benjamin's use of racial slurs as “satire”.

“Is there any line he can't cross?” asked host Jo Coburn.

“If Carl Benjamin said something equivalent to using the N-word about veterans and the poppy, would you defend him?”

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“Well he isn't going to do that, is he?” responded Batten.

Later in the debate, Batten reasoned that one of the reasons he has kept Benjamin on despite other UKIP candidates standing down in protest, was that Benjamin, has such a large following on social media.

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