Insurance tycoon Arron Banks has come under fire for a tweet about 16-year-old climate change activist Greta Thunberg.
The Leave.EU founder responded to a post by Green party MP Caroline Lucas about Greta’s voyage across the Atlantic on a racing yacht, writing: “Freak yachting accidents do happen in August …”
He later tweeted that it was a “joke” after his comment sparked outrage from social media users.
Among those to criticise his post was actress Amanda Abbington, who tweeted: “You’re wishing a potentially fatal accident onto a sixteen year old girl, why..?”
She had earlier written: “If you are a grown up, fully-fledged adult and you are mocking this young girl for trying to save the planet then I genuinely feel sorry for you.”
One Twitter user responded to Mr Banks’ post by saying: “You know she’s 16, right?” while another described his comment as “despicable”.
Mr Banks later defended his post and, in response to another tweet which highlighted the fact Greta was a child, he said: “Quite and one being used. Obviously I don’t hope she encounters a freak yachting accident! I just enjoy watching the ludicrous tweeter mob following the next outrage …”
He also replied to someone accusing him of showing “his true colours”, saying: “It was a joke .. you lefties have no sense of humour …”
Greta is embarking on a two-week voyage across the Atlantic on a carbon-neutral racing yacht, the Malizia II, so she can attend high-profile climate events without using planes or cruise ships which emit greenhouse gas emissions.
This “school strike” have inspired a global protest movement by young people demanding urgent action on climate change.