The extraordinary exchange came after Mr Colldash – a Labour councillor in the seaside town – highlighted how the MP had been lobbying for a so-called super casino in the resort after last month accepting thousands of pounds worth of sports tickets and hospitality from three separate gambling organisations.
“Greggs once gave me a free pasty so I’ve sold the town hall to the Great British Bake-off,” joked Mr Colldash.
Apparently piqued by the criticism, Mr Benton, replied: “More than one free pasty I suspect by the looks of it,” followed by a head-in-hands emoji.
But if the come back was supposed to be “light-hearted” – as the 34-year-old MP later claimed – it was almost immediately slammed by other users on the social media site.
“Are you aware of how damaging this tweet is to some struggling with an eating disorder or who is genetically predisposed to having a larger body than the media imposed norm,” asked user Pete Roberts. “Absolutely disgraceful from an MP.”
Another kept it simpler: “You’re an MP,” wrote Nick Pettigrew. “Show just a shred of dignity.”
Mr Benton had told LancsLive that: “[Mr Colldash is] a Labour Party Councillor who frequently posts unwelcome and unpleasant comments on my social media pages.”
“My response to him is light hearted and in the same vein as his original tweet.”
Mr Benton, who has previously breached parliamentary rules by not declaring interests, accepted almost £8,000 worth of free hospitality last month for Euro 2020 games, Wimbledon and Royal Ascot.
The trough included a ticket to England v Czech Republic from Gamesys, an online casino and bingo company, worth £1,537.60; hospitality to Royal Ascot from the Betting and Gaming Council worth £1,400; a ticket to Wimbledon from Entain worth £1,400; and another ticket from Entain to England v Denmark worth £3,457.
He has since defended himself by saying he registered all gifts and his support for a casino in Blackpool predated the freebies.
Eating disorder charity, Beat, who help run the parliamentary group has declined to comment on the incident.
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