UK Politics

Anne Marie Morris defended after racist language suspension

Anne-Marie Morris Image copyright Conservative Party
Image caption Ms Morris has been MP for Newton Abbot since 2010

A Conservative MP suspended for using a racist expression has been defended by the president of her local party.

Sylvia Russell said Anne Marie Morris "hasn't got a racist thought in her head".

The MP, who has apologised unreservedly, had been "looking for a metaphor to illustrate a point about Brexit", Ms Russell said.

Announcing the suspension, PM Theresa May said she was "shocked" by the "completely unacceptable" language.

Ms Morris, the MP for Newton Abbot in Devon, has been widely criticised by MPs from all parties, with Conservative colleague Helen Grant tweeting that she was "so ashamed".

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's The World at One, Ms Russell, president of Newton Abbot Conservative Association, said she hoped her punishment would be "proportionate".

"It is very disappointing that Anne Marie finds herself in this situation for an unintentional comment that I am quite sure that she never intended to make," she said.

According to a recording published by the Huffington Post, Ms Morris was discussing the impact of Brexit on the UK's financial services industry at an event organised by the Politeia think tank, which was attended by other MPs when she used a racist phrase.

Asked about the MP's use of language Ms Russell added: "I believe she was really looking for a metaphor to illustrate a point about Brexit - and like sometimes, when you're standing on your feet and you're speaking without a script, things come out that shouldn't come out, and Anne Marie is mortified, I would think, that people should consider that she might be a racist.

"She's not. I have known her for many years and she hasn't got a racist thought in her head."

On Monday Ms Morris told the BBC: "The comment was totally unintentional. I apologise unreservedly for any offence caused."

The suspension of Ms Morris reduces the Conservatives' working majority - which relies on DUP support - to 11, although she would be expected to back the Tories in key votes.