A pro-Brexit Conservative member of the British parliament is facing calls for her removal by embattled Prime Minister Theresa May after she was caught on tape calling the idea of leaving the European Union without a plan a “real nigger in the woodpile.”
Anne Marie Morris, who has been an MP for Newton Abbott since 2010, made the remarks during a Monday morning meeting of anti-EU leaders in Central London.
After the Tory MP claimed just 7% of financial services in the UK would be impacted by Brexit, she 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 nigger in the woodpile which is in two years what happens if there is no deal?” Morris continued.
The phrase is a racist relic from the 19th century, initially referring to slaves who hid in woodpiles while on the run from enslavement. It came to describe a devious, hidden motive or agenda.
After HuffPost UK first published audio of the remarks—which drew no reaction from her fellow panelists, which included two other Tory MPs—Morris told the site, “the comment was totally unintentional. I apologize unreservedly for any offense caused.”
The prime minister, who was recently chased out of a relief hub for victims of the deadly Grenfell Tower fire in west London by angry voters who branded her a “coward,” offered a vague admonishment of the comments while taking questions in the House of Commons: “I think it is beholden on us all to ensure we use appropriate language at all times.”
The comment was strongly condemned by British officials from across the political spectrum. Eventually, the Conservatives suspended Morris from the parliamentary party.
May is clinging onto a fragile Tory majority after stunning gains for the Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, in the country’s general election last month.