A Labour MP has been suspended from the party after she was accused of making “racist” comments about the chancellor.
Rupa Huq was administratively suspended pending an investigation after she claimed that Kwasi Kwarteng was “superficially” black.
The MP for Ealing Central and Acton made the remarks about the UK’s first black chancellor at a Labour conference fringe event on Monday entitled “What’s Next for Labour’s Agenda on Race?”.
After her suspension, Ms Huq apologised for her “ill-judged” comments.
“I have today contacted Kwasi Kwarteng to offer my sincere and heartfelt apologies for the comments I made at yesterday’s Labour conference fringe meeting,” she posted on social media.
“My comments were ill-judged and I wholeheartedly apologise to anyone affected.”
Jake Berry, the Conservative Party chairman, had condemned Ms Huq’s “vile” comments before her suspension and urged Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, to remove the whip.
Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, told Ms Huq to apologise and take “immediate action” over the “completely unacceptable” remarks.
‘You wouldn’t know he is black’
In audio posted online by the Guido Fawkes website, Ms Huq says of Mr Kwarteng: “Superficially he is a black man.
“He went to Eton, I think, he went to a very expensive prep school, all the way through, the top schools in the country.
“If you hear him on the Today programme, you wouldn’t know he is black.”
Labour said: “We condemn the remarks and urge her to withdraw them and apologise.”
In a letter to Sir Keir on Tuesday, Mr Berry said the Labour leader must take action against Ms Huq.
Expressing his “serious concerns”, he wrote: “During an event organised by the British Future and Black Equity Organisation and attended by shadow secretary of state for women and equalities Anneliese Dodds, Rupa Huq made a number of racist comments about the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Kwasi Kwarteng.”
He continued: “Sunder Katwala, the event chair, was forced to respond to her appalling comments about the chancellor by saying his Conservative views ‘doesn’t make him not black… and I think the Labour Party has to be really careful’.
“I trust you will join me in unequivocally condemning these comments as nothing less than racist and that the Labour whip will be withdrawn from Rupa Huq as a consequence.”
In a tweet, Mr Katwala said Ms Dodds was no longer at the meeting when the comments were made.
- David Lammy, the shadow foreign secretary, told the BBC that the remarks were “unfortunate” and that Ms Huq should “stand those comments down”.
Also speaking to the broadcaster, Ms Rayner said: “She should apologise for those comments.
“For me those comments are completely unacceptable.
“I think Rupa needs to reflect on what she has said and she needs to take immediate action.”
Sajid Javid, the Conservative former health secretary, said he was “appalled and saddened” by the comments.
“Rather than give encouragement to racists and people who seek to divide us, she should know better,” he posted on social media.
“Not too late for her to show that she does.”
The suspension came shortly after Sir Keir finished his conference speech, which he used to argue now is a “Labour moment” for the party to provide the leadership the nation “so desperately needs”.