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Ukip leader Gerard Batten: Rape tweet just satire

UKIP leader Gerard Batten has described a candidate’s rape tweet to MP Jess Phillips as ‘satire’.

Mr Batten (pictured) defended YouTuber Carl Benjamin, Ukip’s MEP candidate in the south-west, who once tweeted ‘I wouldn’t even rape you’ to the Labour politician.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show Mr Benjamin was ‘a proponent of free speech. The context that he said it was satire against the people he was saying it about. He wasn’t actually making a literal statement.’

After Mr Batten’s defence, Ms Phillips said her husband had questioned: ‘Is this man satire?’ In the same interview, the Ukip leader was also asked whether he hated Islam, the religion he calls a ‘death cult’. ‘I do not like the ideology, the literalist interpretation of Islam,’ he replied. The Muslim Council of Britain accused him of ‘outrageous’ and ‘absurd’ claims.

Mr Batten took over the party last year and has appointed the far-right activist Tommy Robinson as an adviser. Former leader Nigel Farage, who has formed a new Brexit party, said Ukip was now linked to ‘extremism, violence, criminal records and thuggery’.