Elements in the Tory party appear to be closing ranks to protect Anne Marie Morris and their slim majority in Parliament amid the scandal over her racist remarks.
Morris used the phrase “n****r in a woodpile” as she delivered a speech to a meeting of Brexiteers while sat alongside two more Tory MPs, the Huffington Post revealed yesterday.
The Newton Abbot MP was suspended as a Tory MP last night and is now sitting as an independent.
Morris apologised “for any offence caused” by the remark and said it was “completely unintentional.”
There were calls for her to step down from Parliament, but one Tory MP who spoke to the Times last night certainly wasn’t going to let principle get in the way, saying: “We don’t want a by-election, we don’t want a by-election. A by-election if she had died might be OK but not for sounding like a racist.”
Now the chair of the Newton Abbot Conservative association has come to Morris’ defence.
Speaking to World at One, Tory councillor Sylvia Russell said she didn’t want to lose “such a good MP.”
Asked if she was ashamed of what Morris had said, Russell replied:
“It’s very disappointing that Anne Marie finds herself in this situation for an unintentional comment that I’m quite sure she never intended to make.
“She’s served as our MP for the last 8 years, she’s never put a foot wrong and she increased her majority substantially at the last election.”
Asked if she agreed that Morris should have been suspended as a Tory MP, she said:
“Well, that was Theresa May’s decision and I’m sure 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 has proved herself over the last 8 years.”
Asked what would be a fair punishment, Russell said:
“That’s not for me to say, it’s up to the Prime Minister. But I think all fair minded people will know that Anne Marie has put apologised unreservedly over this and I hope that people will accept that.”
Asked why Morris would use such a phrase if she wasn’t a racist, she added:
I believe she was looking for a metaphore to illustrate her point about Brexit. Sometimes whe you’re standing on your feet and you’re speaking without a script things come out that shouldn’t come out. Anne Marie is mortified I would think that people would consider that she might be a racist. She’s not. I’ve known her for many years and she hasn’t got a racist thought in her head.
Morris’ most notable contribution to Parliament in her seven years so far was ranting and raving at PMQs five years ago:
We suspect her constituents wouldn’t miss her as much as the Tory whips…