Ukip handed fresh embarrassment as backer Demetri Marchessini claims there's no such thing as 'marital rape'

Deputy Political Editor

The UK Independence Party faced renewed embarrassment over its links with a wealthy retired businessman as a new poll showed it had surged to record levels of support among voters.

Hours after Nigel Farage announced his decision not to stand in the Newark parliamentary by-election, the anti-EU party received a new morale boost from a ComRes survey showing its backing reaching 38 per cent for this month’s Euro-elections.

The poll for ITV News coincided with the disclosure that the party had recently received cash from Demetri Marchessini despite previously attacking his views as “eccentric and unpalatable”.

The Greek-born tycoon handed the party £10,000 early last year before a public falling-out with the Ukip leadership over his views on homosexuality and women’s rights. However, Channel 4 News disclosed that Ukip received a further £5,000 from him four months ago.

And in an interview last night with the channel, Mr Marchessini created fresh headache for the party with his bizarre views.

He said there was no such thing as marital rape, arguing: “If you make love on Friday and make love Sunday, you can’t say Saturday is rape.”

He said women should be banned from wearing trousers because they “discourage love-making”.

Renewing his criticism of gay lifestyles, he said: “They go out at night and they pick up five, 10, 15 different partners in one night. Is that love? They are not husband and wife. They are roommates and both of them go out cruising. There is no such thing as fidelity in homosexual relationships.”

Former Ukip backer Demetri Marchessini said women should be banned from wearing trousers because they “discourage love-making” Former Ukip backer Demetri Marchessini said women should be banned from wearing trousers because they “discourage love-making” Mr Farage said: “I am sure he gave the money in good faith and it was taken in faith.”

Asked whether Ukip should be taking cash from a donor with such views, he replied: “Possibly not.”

Despite a blaze of negative publicity in recent weeks, ComRes found Ukip’s support for the Euro elections on 22 May had leaped by eight points, while Labour fell three points to 27 per cent and the Conservatives slipped three to just 18 per cent.

Mr Farage argued that his candidature in Newark would be a distraction from his party’s drive for votes in the EU elections. Its candidate is due to be selected within the next week following a hustings in the town.

The Ukip leader also said he had no local links with the Nottinghamshire constituency, where the Tories will defend a 16,000-plus majority following Patrick Mercer’s resignation over cash-for-questions allegations.

But his explanation was mocked by a series of Conservative MPs who took to twitter to accuse him of losing his nerve.

Ben Wallace, the MP for Lancaster and Wyre, said: “That faint clucking you can here in the distance is Nigel Farage... chicken!”

Mark Garnier, the MP for Wyre Forest, tweeted: “Nigel Farage and the Newark by-election: Man or mouse...? Pass the cheese!!! Squeak squeak...”

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