A Red Wall Conservative MP has challenged a prominent anti-Brexit campaigner who spends his time heckling Tories in Westminster to a boxing match to settle their differences.
The verbal exchanges between Tory MP Lee Anderson and top-hatted protester Steve Bray regularly go viral when they are posted on social media.
Their most recent altercation last week – when Mr Anderson confiscated Mr Bray’s top hat and the pair exchanged insults – has been viewed over one million times on Twitter.
Now Mr Anderson is offering to fight Mr Bray in the ring. If the MP wins, Mr Bray will have to put away his megaphone; but if he loses, Mr Anderson said he will join Mr Bray’s protest.
“He had a go at my weight. This is a man who was quite clearly out of condition. I’m trying to do something about it, but here is a challenge,” Mr Anderson told this week’s Chopper’s Politics podcast.
“He is a nuisance. And I’ve got a challenge for him: Meet me in the boxing ring. Let’s do three rounds. And if I win, he never protests out there again. And if he wins, I’ll go and protest with him.”
Mr Anderson said that any funds raised from the bout would go towards a suicide charity for young men. “It is a boxing match, Queensbury rules. Gloves on, for charity. Let’s do some fundraising,” he said.
Mr Bray first became known around Westminster for shouting “Stop Brexit” through an oversized megaphone at the Palace of Westminster after the 2016 referendum. He has lately taken to using a sound system to play protest songs and insult Tories.
On Thursday, Mr Bray told the Telegraph he would consider Mr Anderson’s offer. “I will think about it. I might have to get into a bit of shape first,” he said.
Elsewhere on the podcast, Mr Anderson said he took strength from the flak he attracted on social media like the cartoon character Popeye when he used to eat spinach.
He said: “This week I’ve been called lard a— pot belly MP. I’ve been called a fat b—— all over Twitter. Most of them are hidden profiles, keyboard cowards.
“I used to watch Popeye as a kid. Every time he had his tin of spinach, he got stronger and that’s what it is like for me every time I got one of these horrible comments. My haters are my motivators.”
Mr Anderson said that he was going on a diet after tipping the scales at 17 stone two pounds.
He said: “I want to go down to about 15 stone eight, 15 stone ten.” That’s still officially overweight, but that’s what I feel comfortable on.
“I’ve got a few shirts and suits in the wardrobe that they need to be fitting me again. I want to ‘take back control’ of my eating and drinking and my own personal health.”
Listen to the full interview with Lee Anderson today on Chopper’s PoliticsThe Telegraph’s weekly political podcast, using the audio player at the top of this article or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcast app.