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The president of the local constituency party of Tory MP Anne Marie Morris, who has been accused of making racist remarks, lent her support to the embattled politician on Tuesday.
Sylvia Russell, president of Newton Abbot Conservative Association, swatted away calls for Ms Morris to stand down, insisting she “hasn’t got a racist thought in her head”.
Theresa May ordered the Conservative whip to be suspended after it emerged Ms Morris had described the prospect of Britain leaving the EU without a deal as “the real n***** in the woodpile”.
The Prime Minister described her comment as “completely unacceptable”, saying such language had “absolutely no place in politics or in today’s society”.
Ms Russell said that Ms Morris had apologised unreservedly for what she had said and added that she hoped her punishment would be “proportionate”.
“It is very disappointing that Anne Marie finds herself in this situation for an unintentional comment that I am quite sure that she never intended to make,” Ms Russell told BBC Radio 4’s The World at One.
“I am sure that any suspension will be proportionate to what is involved. We don’t want to lose the capabilities of such a good MP in Parliament as Anne Marie proved herself over the last eight years.
“I think all fair-minded people will know that Anne Marie has apologised unreservedly over this and I hope that people will accept that.
“Anne Marie is mortified, I would think, that people should consider that she might be a racist. She’s not. I have known her for many years and she hasn’t got a racist thought in her head.”
Ms Morris, MP for Newton Abbot, made the controversial remark at a meeting of eurosceptics at the East India Club in St James Square, central London, on Monday.
The 60-year-old, who studied at Oxford University, claimed just 7 per cent of financial services in the UK would be affected by Brexit.
In a recording published by the Huffington Post, she then said: “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?”
Outgoing Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron was among those calling for the whip to be removed from Ms Morris.
“This disgusting comment belongs in the era of the Jim Crow laws and has no place in our Parliament,” he said.
“The Conservative Party should withdraw the whip from Anne Marie Morris and they should do it today.”
He added: “Even if she misspoke this is the nastiest thing I’ve heard an MP utter since Lord Dixon Smith uttered the same awful phrase a few years ago.”
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