Experts are wrong about the moon causing ocean tides, Ukip MP Douglas Carswell insists

The MP says the sun, not the moon, primarily causes ocean tides

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Ukip MP Douglas Carswell has become embroiled in a bizarre argument with scientists over whether the moon or sun causes ocean tides.

Scientific knowledge generally holds that tides are primarily caused by the gravitational pull of the moon orbiting the earth. The sun has a much more limited effect; the moon's proximity to the earth means it has a higher gravitational gradient.

However, committed eurosceptic Mr Carswell on Monday challenged a top scientist at Sussex University’s Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) over the claim, arguing that the sun in fact primarily causes tides.

The row comes after fellow Brexiteer Michael Gove declared that “people in this country have had enough of experts” when he refused to name any economists who backed leaving the EU. 

Professor Paul Nightingale, the deputy director of the SPRU, had posted on Twitter mentioning that the gravitational pull of the moon caused tides.

Mr Carswell however took issue with the suggestion and interjected: 

“Actually, it's the gravitational pull of the sun,” the MP said. “The moon's gravity does Spring / neap tides.”

“[I’m] surprised [the] head of Science research at a university refutes idea sun's gravity causes tides.”

Mr Nightingale replied: “Douglas, this isn't a controversial point. Its in Newton's Principia.”

Undeterred, Mr Carswell, who holds a Masters in British Imperial History, insisted: “Two tides every 24hrs. Caused by earths rotation / Suns gravitational pull. Moon magnifies Spring /neap tides.”

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Mr Carswell is Ukip’s only MP, and represents Clacton, a seaside town in Essex.

He appeared at the party’s conference this weekend where he declared that he backed new leader Diane James “110 per cent”.

This article was updated to clarify the mechanism by which the moon exerts a greater tidal force than the sun

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