A MILLIONAIRE Brexit backer became embroiled in a Twitter argument about what caused the fall of the Roman Empire – with University of Cambridge expert, professor Mary Beard.
UKIP donor Arron Banks, co-founder of the Leave.EU campaign with Nigel Farage, claimed the Roman Empire was “effectively destroyed by immigration”.
But professor Beard, who had written several books on Roman history and is often dubbed “Britain’s best-known classicist” suggested he needed to do “more reading” on the topic.
Mr Banks then stated that he had studied “Roman history extensively” and told the expert, “you don’t have a monopoly on history”.
It’s the second time in three months that a UKIP politician has become embroiled in a debate with a professor.
In September, UKIP’s only MP Douglas Carswell challenged a top scientist at Sussex University’s Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) about claims the moon causes ocean tides. Carswell argued that it is in fact the sun which primarily causes tides.
The debate between Mr Banks and professor Beard began when the Brexit architect tweeted: “The Roman Empire was effectively destroyed by immigration.”
Professor Beard responded by writing: “I think you all need to do a bit more reading in Roman history before telling us what caused the fall of Rome. Facts guys!”
But Mr Banks sarcastically wrote back: “Yes sacking Rome nothing to do with the down fall (eyes to sky).”
Professor Beard replied: “Sorry but you may have strong views but you guys don’t know Roman history.”
But again, Mr Banks snapped back, writing: “I studied roman history extensively – you don’t have a monopoly on history!”
Professor Beard then joked about fellow Brexit supporter Michael Gove’s recent claim that British people have “had enough of experts”, writing: “Sorry Mr Banks but this might be a subject on which to listen to experts!”
Undeterred, Mr Banks added: “Well the “experts ” I read at school believed the
sacking of Rome and the break-up was caused by failure to control hordes on the border.”
He then continued to give more reasons for his knowledge, writing: “I regularly visit Rome. I love it.”
Also adding: “I love Gladiator, always watch it with my son.”
Twitter users began mocking the UKIP donor for his argument with the well-respected expert.
Jason Brown wrote: “Next week he’ll teach Tim Berners-Lee about the internet and define rock and roll to Paul McCartney.”
Mark Graham added: “As an English exceptionalist, he probably thinks he’s a direct descendant.”
Mark Tracey quipped: “Maybe he read Asterix as well.”
The argument represents the second time in quick succession UKIP member has argued with an expert about the subject they study.
Back in September, Douglas Carswell MP sent Sussex Professor Paul Nightingale a tweet, saying: “Surprised head of Science research at a university refutes idea sun’s gravity causes tides.”
Nightingale replied: “Douglas, this isn’t a controversial point. It’s in Newton’s Principia.”