back to top

A UKIP Millionaire Is Arguing With Mary Beard About Roman History And People Are Taking The Piss

Arron Banks says the Roman Empire was destroyed by immigration; classical historian and "fancy academic" Mary Beard says it wasn't.

Posted on

Arron Banks, multi-millionaire UKIP backer and co-founder of the Leave.EU pro-Brexit campaign, has been telling historians what *really* caused the fall of the Roman empire. It was immigration, he says:

True the Roman Empire was effectively destroyed by immigration. https://t.co/V7H6zF2K5a

This caused things to kick off a little. Averil Cameron, a professor of antique and Byzantine history at Keble College, Oxford, pointed out that this was, not to put to fine a point on it, wrong:

Since when has this been true? Terribly out of date idea, what has he been reading? https://t.co/xNwIGABafJ

And everyone's favourite TV historian, the Cambridge classicist Mary Beard – author of the critically acclaimed Roman history book SPQR – weighed in, RT-ing Cameron's tweet.

At this point Banks, realising he was going against the weight of expert opinion, gracefully acknowledged that the two women he was arguing against probably knew more than he did about the subject they had dedicated their lives to, and withdrew from the conversation.

Because he is a grown-up.

Lol, jk. Obviously he doubled down.

@wmarybeard yes sacking Rome nothing to do with the down fall ( eyes to sky ) https://t.co/3QvAAuJGT6

Because Cameron and Beard might have the fancy book-learning, but Banks did history at O-level!

Well the "experts " I read at school believed the sacking of Rome and the break up was caused by failure to control… https://t.co/TC6yjcG72y

I'm not a fancy academic like you but that's what I remember from my history lesson ( when schools taught history ) https://t.co/FPWMdeTGHe

Remember, experts don't know anything, and opinions are just as good as facts and much easier to get hold of!

History is a matter of opinion and every player writes his own version. That's different obviously https://t.co/0Td0nkaLPa

@wmarybeard as it happens Roman history is my hobby since school and I'm an avid reader. Everyone can have opinion… https://t.co/j4OhTcQ8du

I studied roman history extensively - you don't have a monopoly on history ! https://t.co/7hZH8fZZWE

Beard and Cameron tried vainly to hold back this unstoppable tide of truth.

@Arron_banks @Mr__XYZ @Senor_gulicreza @Fraser91A sorry mr banks but this might be a subject on which to listen to experts!

@Mr__XYZ @Arron_banks sorry but you may have strong views but you guys don't know Roman history.

That was then and now is now. The subject has moved on since you were at school https://t.co/b9zjXVF1yJ

But it was to no avail. Banks, possibly assisted by his colleague Professor Google, stood firm.

Didn't marcellinus say something about savages beyond compare falling down on Rome and destroying the empire ... yo… https://t.co/9hYgiEQOqb

Nevertheless, some people were unconvinced.

Watching Arron Banks try to tell Mary Beard he knows more about the fall of Rome than her because he studied it at school. Duuuuuuuuude.

This is peak 2016. A millionaire Brexiter mainsplaining to a world authority on Rome why she’s wrong, based on what… https://t.co/7RTUc1lUnS

Only one person can come out of an argument about Roman history with Mary Beard well and that person is Mary Beard… https://t.co/GJ2zdQqdTc

"I studied Roman History extensively"* *"I loved Up Pompeii! and once caught half an episode of I, Claudius" https://t.co/zLzwkK2mTa

(In fairness to Banks, he was a pretty good sport about it, and RT'd quite a few of the tweets mocking him.)

He's not the first senior UKIP figure to strike back against the tyranny of people who have read books. In September the party's only MP, Douglas Carswell, took it upon himself to explain to scientists what *really* causes tides.

@Nightingale_P @DuncanWeldon actually it's the gravitational pull of the sun. The moon's gravity does Spring / neap tides

It just goes to show that people in this country really have had enough of experts.

Tom Chivers is a science writer for BuzzFeed and is based in London.

Contact Tom Chivers at tom.chivers@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.