Former Ukip donor Arron Banks has come under fire from Labour MPs Jess Phillips and Stella Creasy after he attempted to ‘mansplain’ sexual harassment to a female journalist.
Banks, who ploughed more than a million pounds into the party before being suspended in March, caused a Twitter storm when he accused journalist Jane Merrick of “a lack of character” over the way she dealt with harassment from a politician.
The 51-year-old co-founder of the Leave.EU campaign took a swipe at Merrick, editor of The Spoon and a columnist for The Independent, after she claimed she had been forced to “smile and interview a senior Tory who previously lunged at me”.
Her statement came amid a wider debate about sexism in Hollywood, with Merrick defending Emma Thompson against claims the actress had condoned the behaviour of media mogul Harvey Weinstein.
Reacting to a photo of the A-Listers together, Merrick explained: “It’s not that straight forward”.
But Banks hit back, explaining how she should have dealt with her harasser.
In a spat that followed, the millionaire dismissed Merrick’s claims that speaking out about the incident could have damaged her career, saying: “When you confront people and speak the truth you always feel better.”
Banks’ comments sparked widespread controversy online, garnering biting criticism from Labour MP Jess Phillips.
“You are a privileged idiot who knows nothing about being silenced,” she wrote.
“Some of us fight with our guts, not our money.”
Her views were mirrored by fellow politician Stella Creasy:
Other writers, comedians and activists were also quick to slam Banks’ attempts at telling women his best practice tips.
“I feel better when men don’t sexually assault or harass women,” Strictly Come Dancing star Susan Calman wrote.
“Or patronise them. Or blame them.”
The row comes less than a year after Banks attempted to explain the fall of the Roman Empire to Cambridge University classicist Mary Beard based on his love of the Russell Crowe epic ‘Gladiator’.