A Conservative Member of Parliament has apologised for a leaked remark that has been condemned as racist ahead of an anticipated meeting of party whips — the Parliamentarians who enforce party discipline — this week.
The remark is reported to have been made to a meeting of Eurosceptics by Anne-Marie Morris, the Conservative MP for Newton Abbott, at the East India Club in London.
HuffPost reports on the contents of the recording of the speech, in which Morris spoke of the future of financial services, before remarking: “…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***er in the woodpile which is in two years what happens if there is no deal?”
After the remarks came into the public domain, the MP apologised, telling the BBC: “The comment was totally unintentional. I apologise unreservedly for any offence caused.”
The British state broadcaster also reported the remarks of a Conservative spokesman who said of the words: “We are aware of these reports. This kind of language is completely unacceptable, and we are urgently investigating.”
The BBC reports the prime minister and the Conservative chief whip are expected to meet and discuss the words.
The phrase, which emerged in 19th century America but has largely died out, is defined by the Collins English Dictionary as meaning “a hidden snag or hindrance”.
The controversy over the remark recalls an earlier incident where Lord Dixon-Smith used the phrase during a House of Lords debate on housing, causing it to be entered into Hansard, prompting an apology.
Lord Dixon-Smith said afterwards: “I apologise, my Lords. I left my brains behind. I apologise to the House” and “It was common parlance when I was younger, put it that way”, reported the Daily Telegraph at the time.