A Labour backbencher has issued a grovelling apology after insisting Gordon Brown was right to brand Rochdale pensioner Gillian Duffy a “bigot”.
Alex Cunningham was caught on tape discussing the notorious 2010 election campaign encounter between the then-Prime Minister and Mrs Duffy.
Mr Brown forgot to remove a microphone from his lapel after being grilled by Mrs Duffy on immigration issues, and was overheard dismissing her as a “bigoted woman”.
When the incident was raised at a party fundraiser earlier this month, Mr Cunningham said: “She was a bigoted woman and that’s all there is to it.”
But the Stockton North MP has now disowned the remark in a statement, saying: “I am deeply sorry. What I said was wrong and cannot be excused. I will be writing to Mrs Duffy to offer a sincere and personal apology.”
Conservative MP Priti Patel said: “Behind the phony public statements, this shows nothing has changed when it comes to Labour’s attitude to immigration.
“Labour opened the door to uncontrolled immigration with no thought to its impacts on communities, and as Peter Mandelson admitted, were even sending out search parties for migrants.
“It’s the Conservatives who are building an immigration system that is fair to British citizens and legitimate migrants and tough on those who abuse the system or flout the law.”