A man paddles his canoe past a flooded property in Yalding Reuters

David Silvester, the Ukip Henley-on-Thames councillor who claimed that recent flooding in the UK was God's way of showing his displeasure with gay marriage, has been suspended by the party.

Silvester claimed that he wrote to PM David Cameron in 2012 warning him that if he legalised gay marriage, the nation would "be beset by natural disasters such as storms, disease, pestilence and war."

Ukip's decision to suspend the councillor is a remarkable volte-face for the anti-Europe party, which had previously claimed the councillor's beliefs were his own business.

In a statement on Saturday the party said: "If the media are expecting Ukip to either condemn or condone someone's personal religious views they will get absolutely no response. Whether Jain or Sikh or Buddhist or Sufi or Zoroastrian or Jewish or Muslim or Baptist or Hindu or Catholic or Ba'Hai or Animist or any other mainstream, or minor religion or movement, we are taught as a tolerant society to accept a diversity of ideologies."