A Conservative MP has been asked to step back from his role at a top charity after confusing two Asian cabinet ministers.
The MailOnline reported that James Gray, the MP for North Wiltshire, had been speaking at an event for the St John Ambulance charity in parliament in September, when he was meant to be introducing Nadhim Zahawi, who was then vaccines minister.
“They all look the same to me”
But he is reported to have confused him with Health Secretary Sajid Javid, and reports said he remarked:
Tomorrow I will host a reception in Parliament to honour the St John Ambulance volunteers for their support during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment and I also thanked them yesterday in the House for training and co-ordinating volunteer vaccinators. pic.twitter.com/nLcALoVv3I
— James Gray (@JGray) September 7, 2021
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Gray denies making the remark but said he did confuse the two.
He told the MailOnline:
I said ‘I am sorry to confuse the two of you. You two look very alike’. I said ‘I am sorry if I got you two mixed up’.
The notion that this is some sort of racist remark is ridiculous. They are two very good friends of mine.
First you had Williamson mistaking 1 Black sportsman for another
Now you have James Gray MP saying he can’t tell two of his own ministers apart because Asians “all look the same”
— nazir afzal (@nazirafzal) October 11, 2021
The pompous MP, James Gray shows he’s just a nasty racist.
— Spotty Dog (@Spottydog_) October 11, 2021
“St John does not tolerate racism in any way, shape or form”
A spokesperson for St John Ambulance confirmed Gray had been asked to step back from all activities associated with the charity, where he is a commander in the crder of St John, the parent charity of St John Ambulance.
St John does not tolerate racism in any way, shape or form. We spoke with James Gray following the event about our values as an open, inclusive and progressive charity.
Gray was also forced to apologise last month for a “foolish remark” suggesting a bomb should be planted in a Labour frontbencher’s office.
At the time Gray claimed he meant “no offence” with the comment about Labour Party chair Anneliese Dodds, which that he posted in a WhatsApp group ahead of the opposition’s conference in Brighton.
The timing of the remark particularly raised concern among MPs because it was at the Conservative Party conference in the same city in 1984 that Margaret Thatcher was targeted by a bombing.
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