WATCH: New Independent Group MP Angela Smith forced to apologise amid racism row

Posted On: 
18th February 2019

Angela Smith has been forced to apologise after she used a racist slur just hours after she quit Labour to join a new bloc of independent MPs.

Angela Smith was one of seven former Labour MPs who quit to form the new group
Credit: 
PA

The Penistone and Stocksbridge MP appeared to describe people from the BME community as being a “funny tinge” just hours after she helped launch The Independent Group. 

Ms Smith joined Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna, Mike Gapes, Ann Coffey, Gavin Shuker and Chris Leslie in resigning from Labour over Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the party, including his approach to Brexit and attempts to tackle anti-semitism.

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But shortly afterwards, during a discussion on racism on the BBC's Politics Live programme, she said: “It’s not just about being black or a funny tinge…you know a different, from the BME community.”

A number of commentators, including left-wing journalist Owen Jones immediately hit out at the comments, saying: “Wow. Just wow. Listen to how Angela Smith, one of the founders of the new party, describes BME people.”

In a statement released on Twitter, Ms Smith apologised for the remarks, insisting she “misspoke”.

She said: "I have seen the clip from Politics Live. I am very sorry about any offence caused, and I am very upset that I misspoke so badly. It is not what I am, and I am committed to fighting racism wherever I find it in our society.”

But Labour MP Rupa Huq blasted Ms Smith for the "appalling racist comment" as she questioned whether the new bloc would launch an investigation into the remarks.

She said: "They claim their new party is anti-racist and modern yet in the same breath describe black, asian and minority ethnic people as having 'a funny tinge'. This is, at best, the casual racism of the 70s that I thought we'd long left behind. But it will strike many as an appalling racist comment. Is the Independent group going to investigate?"

Speaking at the launch of The Independent Group, Ms Smith said she had made the “painful” decision to leave the Labour Party as she hit out at “left-wing intellectuals”.

“Most people are like my family,” she said. “They do not want to be patronised by left-wing intellectuals who think that being poor and working class constitutes a state of grace. What they do want is a fair crack at the whip, and opportunities to succeed.”