A Conservative member of parliament's use of the 'n'-word has seen her suspended from her parliamentary party. The move puts additional pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May's fragile ruling majority in parliament.
Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday ordered the Conservative party's chief whip to suspend Anne Marie Morris (above) from her parliamentary party, after the MP for Newton Abbot in Devon, southwest England, used the 'n'-word at a meeting in London.
The move technically reduces the margin of May's small parliamentary majority to just six, if both Conservative and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MPs are included. It is unclear if any further disciplinary actions will be taken.
May said the remarks were "shocking and unacceptable.”
"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," the prime minister said.
Brexit campaigner Morris - whose remarks were recorded by the Huffington Post - made the remark on Monday during a meeting in London at the East India Club while discussing blueprints for the financial services sector post-Brexit.
"Just seven percent of financial services currently used in the UK will be impacted by Brexit. 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 nigger in the woodpile, which is, in two years, what happens if there is no deal?”
Morris apologized within hours of making the statement for any offence caused. "The comment was entirely unintentional," she said.
The phrase is believed to date back to the era of slavery in the United States.
David Isaac, chairman of the UK's Equality and Human Rights Commission said, "This language belongs to another era and is highly regrettable. At a time when we need to heal divisions in our country, using a phrase like this will offend the vast majority of people across the UK. We should not tolerate language of this sort. The prime minister should take immediate action."
Tory MP Heidi Allen said an apology was not enough and the party must show zero tolerance towards racism.
Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrat party, said he was shocked and that Morris should immediately be excluded from the Conservative parliamentary group. "Every hour they leave her in place is a stain on them and the so-called ‘compassionate conservatism' they supposedly espouse."
Morris distanced herself from comments made by her electoral agent and partner, Roger Kendrick, earlier this year that "the crisis in education was due entirely to non-British-born immigrants and their high birth rates.”
In 2008, then-Conservative leader David Cameron was urged to sack a Tory peer after he used the 'n'-word during a House of Lords debate. But Cameron declined to do so.
jbh/gsw (Reuters, The Guardian)