Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 July 2019

British MP suspended by Tory party for racist remark

Anne Marie Morris, who has represented the constituency of Newton Abbot, has had the whip removed following the publication of a secret recording

Anne Marie Morris, pictured front in a black and white checked blazer, has been suspended
Anne Marie Morris, pictured front in a black and white checked blazer, has been suspended

A Tory MP who used an inflammatory racial slur has had the whip removed from her by the party. Conservative Anne Marie Morris, who represents Newton Abbot in the county of Devon, was recorded at political event about Brexit using the word n*****.

Morris was recorded telling the audience at the meeting: “Now I’m sure there will be many people who’ll challenge that, but my response and my request is look at the detail, it isn’t all doom and gloom. Now we get to the real n***** in the woodpile, which is, in two years what happens if there is no deal?”

The Eurosceptic event was held at the East India Club in St James Square, and was organised by the Politeia group, which calls itself “a forum for social and economic thinking”. Morris was on a panel that included Tory MPs John Redwood and Bill Cash, neither of whom appeared to challenge her after her remarks, according to the recording published on the website.

Audience member Colton Richards told the Huffington Post: “It was disgusting to hear those comments by somebody in public life. It was almost as though she felt like she was talking to her friends in a private audience.”

Within hours of the the recording being made public on the Huffington Post website, Morris was being criticised by members of opposition parties and by fellow Tories. The outgoing Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: “This disgusting comment belongs in the era of the Jim Crow laws and has no place in our parliament.

“The Conservative party should withdraw the whip from Anne Marie Morris and they should do it today. Every hour they leave her in place is a stain on them and the so-called ‘compassionate conservatism’ they supposedly espouse.”

Morris rapidly issued an apology, saying “the comment was totally unintentional. I apologise unreservedly for any offence caused.” But fellow Tory MP Heidi Allen tweeted that “an apology is not good enough - we must show zero tolerance for racism. MPs must lead by example.”

Although there was no initial response from the prime minister, who was accompanying the Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull to the scene of last month’s terror attacks at Borough Market, Theresa May later condemned the remarks unreservedly.

“I was shocked to hear of these remarks, which are completely unacceptable,” May said. “I immediately asked the chief whip to suspend the party whip. Language like this has absolutely no place in politics or in today’s society.”

Although Morris is likely to continue voting with the Conservative party despite being suspended from it, it’s another parliamentary pitfall for the prime minister, who is already struggling with a tiny majority in the Commons, and allows the opposition parties to claim that the Tories are still the ‘nasty party’, a phrase May herself first used.

Updated: July 11, 2017 12:05 AM