Nigel Farage has said it is ok for mothers to breastfeed in public, as long as they do not do so in an "ostentatious" manner.
Earlier this week a mother described her humiliation after she was asked to cover herself with a napkin while breastfeeding at Claridge's in London. The hotel faced a backlash for its treatment of the family.
Speaking on LBC radio this morning, the Ukip leader suggested mums should "sit in the corner" of a room to feed their child, rather than out in the open.
"Given that some people feel very embarrassed by it, it isn’t difficult to breastfeed a baby in a way that’s not openly ostentatious," he said. "Or perhaps sit in the corner, or whatever it might be – that's up to Claridge’s."
David Cameron's official spokesperson said the prime minister disagreed and that it was "totally unacceptable for any woman to be made to feel uncomfortable breastfeeding in public."
Labour's shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, said that after his LBC interview, "Nigel Farage should sit in a corner".
On Tuesday Louise Burns, 35, tweeted pictures of herself feeding her 12-week-old baby with a large napkin draped over them while having a Christmas tea treat at the hotel with her mother and sister.
"I started feeding her very discreetly when the waiter hurried over with a huge napkin, knelt down and said it was policy to cover up,” she told the Guardian. "My initial reaction was to burst into tears. This was my third baby. I had trouble breastfeeding the first two but this was going well. I didn’t expect to be admonished in a central London hotel."
Yesterday Nick Clegg also told LBC that people should "ease up and be a bit more relaxed" about mothers breastfeeding in public.
Farage responded to the backlash against his comments by suggesting it was a "pure fabrication by media".
Quite confused as to where this "should" sit in a corner thing came from. I simply didn't say it. Said I had no problem with it personally.— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) December 5, 2014
I said if rules of place (i.e. Claridges) dictates a certain discretion, then that's up to the venue. Once again, pure fabrication by media.— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) December 5, 2014
Farage's comments come as new research showed encouraging mothers to breastfeed for longer could improve their health and also save the NHS more than £40m a year.
A report by a team of researchers led by Brunel University said the savings would come from reducing common childhood illnesses and also cutting the risk of women developing breast cancer over their lifetime, which is said to be linked to low rates of breastfeeding.
The study, published online in Archive of Disease in Childhood, suggested £11m could be saved by cutting the occurrence of infections in babies if women who exclusively breastfed for one week were to keep going for four months.
And doubling the number of mothers who breastfeed for between seven and 18 months would save £31m due to the lower estimated number of those women developing breast cancer.