UK Politics

Labour MP sorry for saying Gillian Duffy 'was a bigot'

A Labour MP has issued an apology after saying Gordon Brown was right to brand Gillian Duffy a "bigot".

Mr Brown was forced to apologise to Mrs Duffy, a Rochdale pensioner, during the 2010 general election campaign.

But Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham told a Labour fundraising event earlier this month: "She was a bigoted woman and that's all there is to it."

The MP issued an apology after a recording of his remarks came to light, saying he was "deeply sorry".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Labour MP Alex Cunningham was secretly recorded making the remarks at a party event

"What I said was wrong and cannot be excused. I will be writing to Mrs Duffy to offer a sincere and personal apology," he added.

Mrs Duffy, a lifelong Labour voter, confronted Mr Brown over immigration while he was on an election campaign visit to Rochdale.

Mr Brown forgot he was still wearing a microphone after being grilled by Mrs Duffy on immigration, and was heard telling an aide it had been a "disaster" and that Mrs Duffy was "just a sort of bigoted woman".

The then Labour leader and prime minister later visited Mrs Duffy at her home to apologise and said he was "mortified" at the incident.

Mr Cunningham's remarks on Mrs Duffy, which were secretly recorded, were seized on by the Conservatives.

Tory MP Priti Patel said: "Behind the phony public statements, this shows nothing has changed when it comes to Labour's attitude to immigration."

And UKIP's communications director Patrick O'Flynn, who is also an MEP, tweeted: "No matter how often they say sorry, many Labour MPs really do think it is bigoted to worry about uncontrolled immigration."

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