27/01/2017 15:52 GMT | Updated 27/01/2017 16:07 GMT

Ukip Leader Paul Nuttall Agrees With Donald Trump On Torture, Saying He'd 'Probably Be Ok' With It

'Through gritted teeth'

Ukip leader Paul Nuttall has been condemned for saying he’d “probably be ok” with waterboarding people, after Donald Trump triggered a row by saying the same.

Theresa May attempted to distance herself from Trump’s suggestion torture works ahead of her first meeting with the president at the White House today.

But Nuttall told Sky News he would support it “through gritted teeth” if it saved lives.

He was speaking ahead of the Stoke by-election - in which he is his party’s candidate.

“Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire,” he said, using the same phrase as Trump.

“And I think that these people are incarcerated because they’re bad people. Ok.

“And they want to do us harm and, if waterboarding ensures that it saves a number of lives in this country or America because someone admits to something that is going to happen in terms of a terrorist attack. 

“Well, do you know, through gritted teeth, I’d probably be ok with it.”

Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Paul Nuttall

Tim Farron, Lib Dem leader, said it was “shocking and disappointing to hear a leader of a British political party defend torture”.

He added: “There should be no ifs, no buts, torture is abhorrent. Ukip are seeking to trash our proud values in a desperate bid for cheap votes. Shame on them. Britain is better than that, which is why they will fail.

“Great Britain is Great because we are a beacon of justice, decency and the rule of law. Our reputation around the world is richer for these values and I will defend them with every bone in my body.”

Martin H. Simon via Getty Images
ABC News' David Muir (left) interviewed Donald Trump, who told him waterboarding worked

Earlier this week, Trump told ABC News: “We have to fight fire with fire.”

He added: “When they’re shooting, when they’re chopping off the heads of our people and other people, when they’re chopping off the heads of people because they happen to be a Christian in the Middle East, when Isis is doing things that nobody has ever heard of since Medieval times, would I feel strongly about waterboarding?.

“I have spoken with people at the highest level of intelligence and I asked them the question ‘Does it work? Does torture work?’ and the answer was ‘Yes, absolutely’.”

In response, May condemned the use of torture ahead of her visit to the US this week.

She told journalists: “My view on that won’t change - whether I am talking to you or talking to the president.”