James Gray asked to step down from his role at St. John Ambulance, which “does not tolerate racism” as Labor demands “firm action” from Boris Johnson.
A Tory MP has denied making a racist comment after being asked to resign from a charity role for allegedly saying of Cabinet Ministers Nadhim Zahawi and Sajid Javid that “they all look the same to me”.
James Gray made the alleged remark at an event for the St. John Ambulance in Parliament that was attended by both ministers.
Mr Gray admitted to introducing Minister of Education Zahawi as Minister of Health Javid, but denied making that particular comment.
He said I: “I said that I think Saj and Nadhim look pretty similar.
“What you do.”
Mr. Gray mistook Mr. Zahawi, who has a white beard and is from Iraq in the Middle East, with the clean-shaven Mr. Javid, whose family is from Pakistan, South Asia, when he tried to introduce the former to the audience.
After pointing out the mistake, the North Wiltshire MP reportedly told the guests “they all look the same to me”.
A spokesman for St John Ambulance confirmed that Mr. Gray had been asked to withdraw from the charity’s activities after the event.
“St. John does not tolerate racism in any way, shape or form, ”he said.
“We spoke to James Gray after the event about our values as an open, inclusive and progressive charity.”
Labor called on Boris Johnson to take decisive action against Mr Gray.
Taiwo Owatemi, Minister for Shadow Equality, said, “Enough is enough. These reported statements by James Gray are shameful and completely unacceptable.
“Boris Johnson needs to change his habits and take decisive action here to make it clear that racist language has no place in a mainstream political party. These remarks simply cannot go unchallenged. “
A Conservative Party spokeswoman criticized the comments but declined to say whether further action would be taken
She said, “These comments were misjudged.
“We do not tolerate racism or discrimination of any kind.”
Nick Lowles, CEO of the anti-racism campaign group Hope Not Hate, said:: “Unfortunately, it is not surprising to see another case of racism from a senior figure in the Conservative Party who has repeatedly failed to combat racism and Islamophobia within their ranks.
“To say that two Asian ministers look alike is just shameful, but it should be remembered that this is yet another example of the fact that the problems the Conservative Party is facing are not isolated cases, but rather a sign for an endemic inability and lack of political will to fight racism.
“Such comments not only affect the people concerned, but disrupt the social fabric of our multicultural society by homogenizing people who do not fit into the ‘white British’ category.
“Unless we see meaningful attempts to reform the Conservative Party’s handling of racism and Islamophobia, we will continue to see these stories emerge.”
Regarding the allegations, which were first reported by MailOnline, Mr. Gray said I: “This is utter nonsense. “I mistakenly introduced Nadhim as Saj and immediately apologized.
“That was all.
“The suggestion that this is some kind of racial slur is utter nonsense.”
When asked if he said, “They all look the same to me,” Mr. Gray said, “I never said that.
“Neither do I.