NIGEL Farage has provoked outrage by appearing to make light of Donald Trump’s self-confessed sexual assaults on women.

The Brexit party leader was criticised after saying the President’s recorded boast about grabbing women by the privates was just something men said “on a night out after a drink”.

On a seven-way election campaign debate on ITV, he said: “Men say dreadful things sometimes. You know something? If all of us were caught out for what we did on a night out after a drink, none of us would be standing here.”

The exchange reignited the row over Mr Trump’s attitude to women - and Boris Johnson’s closeness to him - ahead of the US President’s visit to the UK this week for a Nato summit.

Mr Trump’s notorious comments emerged in the 2016 Presidential election when a video was unearthed of him on his way to taping a TV show called Access Hollywood in 2005.

In it, he referred to his seduction of women: “When you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. ... Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything."

He downplayed it as "locker room banter".

Mr Farage made the comments after a question about the UK’s “special relationship” with the US ought to more “more of less special” given who was President.

It prompted a series of criticisms of Mr Trump from most of the participants.

UK LibDem leader Jo Swinson said the current occupant of the White House did not share British values, calling him “someone who has boasted about sexually assaulting women”.

Nicola Sturgeon advised Mr Johnson to “sup with a very, very long spoon” because of his “dangerous “rhetoric and policies, adding: “The last thing the United Kingdom needs is a Prime Minister who’s trying to be like Donald Trump.”

However Mr Farage suggested the UK ought to be closer to the US and said Labour claims that the NHS would be on the table in a post-Brexit UK-US trade deal were “lies”.

Mr Trump has previously praised Mr Farage and recently appeared on his LBC radio show.

Asked by host Julie Etchingham about Mr Trump’s character and whether he was comfortable being his friend, Mr Farage said: “Donald Trump’s style is very American. It may not be to everybody’s taste, but think about this, he is our most important friend in the world.

“At a time of huge global uncertainty we should think not just trade with America but security.

“The biggest lie of this entire election campaign is that Trump wants to but the NHS. He does not, and he will say so I’m sure this week when he’s here.”

Ms Swinson then raised the Access Hollywood tape and asked Mr Farage: “Have you seen the footage of him boasting about sexually assaulting women?”

Mr Farage replied: “I have, and it was crass, and it was crude, and it was wrong and men say dreadful things sometimes.They do. They do. But you know something? If all of us were caught out for what we did on a night out after a drink, none of us would be standing here.”

As other participants reacted with incredulity, Mr Swinson said: “I’m sorry, is that what you do on a night out after a drink Nigel?”

He told her: “I’m sure you’ve lived the purest life of anybody and never said a word wrong about anything, anywhere.

"I'm sure you're absolutely perfect.”

Ms Sturgeon said: “Donald Trump, among many other things, demonises immigrants, so it's no wonder Nigel Farage really likes him.

“There is a trend in politics today of strong man politics. We’ve got Nigel Farage, we’ve got Boris Johnson, we’ve got Donald Trump.

“That in my view is not what the UK or any part of it needs. Donald Trump’s attitudes, I think, are wrong, and they’re dangerous, and in Boris Johnson we’ve got somebody who’s trying to be like him. That I think is the wrong way to go.

"People in Scotland have a big choice to make - are we going to let our future be dominated and decided by the Trump-Johnson-Farage axis? Or are we going choose something much better for the future of our country for this generation and those that come after us?”

Tory Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak said the UK’s relationship with America was “incredibly important for keeping us safe.. That’s not something to turn your nose at”.

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price was loudly applauded for also raising some of Mr Johnson’s past comments.

He said: “The truth is the words we use matter, whether in public or in private. It can never be acceptable for a man to talk about grabbing a woman’s pussy. If you think it is, you should be ashamed of yourself.

“The sad reality is this as well - we have a Prime Minister who referred to gay men like myself as bumboys in tanktops, referred to Muslim women looking like letterboxes.

“This is creating the climate where abuse becomes acceptable, whether it’s abuse of women or of minorities, and that’s why neither Trump nor Boris Johnson are fit to be in public life.”

Mr Sunak was mocked when he replied: “When it comes to LGBT rights, the Prime Minister’s record is very clear.”

Ms Sturgeon told him: “Defend those comments. You can’t defend those comments.”

Mr Farage tried to justify his remarks in his closing statement.

He said: “I hope you’ve enjoyed tonight’s talent show. It’s been a competition to see who can be the most politically correct, so therefore I must have failed here but maybe not with you back at home.

We need to get some fresh, strong, non-PC voices into the House of Commons”

Labour’s David Lammy said Mr Farage’s comments were “absolutely outrageous”.

He tweeted: “All leaders should stand against misogyny, not make excuses for it.”