Labour’s former Business Secretary Lord Mandelson has taken a swipe at UKIP’s treatment of gay people.

The ex-Labour cabinet minister and former European trade commissioner has written a column in defence of Britain’s EU membership for the London Evening Standard.

Briefly touching upon equality, Lord Mandelson said: “For most Londoners, there is a lot to dislike about UKIP. Their attitudes to women and maternity rights belong in the dark ages. They routinely insult gay people.”

Despite disagreeing with its politics, Lord Mandelson admitted Nigel Farage’s party was likely to perform well in next month’s European elections.

He said: “UKIP can expect to be a beneficiary of this boot up the backside for the Coalition parties. Nigel Farage and his party of unknowns escape detailed scrutiny because you would need a giant magnifying glass to discover what their policies are and because, for most they are a passing joyride for the protest voter.”

During a recent appearance on Have I Got News for You, Mr Farage attempted to make light of several anti-LGBT incidents by UKIP members from the past 12 months.

He laughed along with the audience as John Sullivan, a UKIP candidate who said last year that physical exercise “releases boys’ tensions and thus avoided homosexuality”, was branded a loony by host Stephen Mangan.

The UKIP leader was also embarrassed by David Silvester, the former UKIP councillor who blamed floods on same-sex marriage.

Earlier this month, a UKIP chairman defended a prospective councillor in Portsmouth who described anal sex as “sodomy”, and said he was against “aggressive homosexuals” who pretend they are “normal”.