UKIP’s only MP tries to school science professor on science... and fails

United Kingdom Independence Party MP Douglas Carswell © Neil Hall
UKIP’s only MP, Douglas Carswell, got into an Twitter spat with a University of Sussex scientist in a doomed attempt to convince the academic that the sun’s gravity – rather than the moon’s – causes the Earth’s tides.

Carswell, MP for Clacton-on-Sea, challenged Paul Nightingale, a science policy researcher, after the academic used the concept of gravity to argue that the UK sign trade deals with neighbors rather than China.

“Want 2 understand trade? Think gravity: size & distance matter. UK-Ireland greater than UK-China

"Jupiter is big but the moon moves tides," he wrote on Monday.

Minutes later, Carswell crafted a tweet of his own in an attempt to refute the claim.

[a]ctually it's the gravitational pull of the sun. The moon's gravity does Spring / neap tides,” he said.

Scientists agree that tides are primarily caused by the gravitational pull of the moon as it orbits the Earth. While the sun does have a limited effect on the Earth’s tides, the greater distance between the Earth and the sun means that this effect is much smaller, despite the sun’s much bigger size.

Nightingale called out the Euroskeptic MP for the glaring factual error, but the MP was undeterred and continued to insist that he knew better.

Sharp-eyed Twitter users quickly seized on the bizarre exchange to poke fun at Carswell and his party.