Tory MP confuses two ethnic minority ministers at event
British secretary of state for health and social care Sajid Javid. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
A Tory MP has been asked to step back from his work at a charity, after reports suggest that he mixed up two ethnic minority ministers at an event, saying “they all look the same to me”.
According to MailOnline, James Gray confused then vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi with health secretary Sajid Javid. Following the event, St John Ambulance said it did not “tolerate racism”.
Gray, however, acknowledged of mixing up the two men but denied saying “they all look the same to me”.
While speaking with the BBC, the North Wiltshire MP said: “I think I said ‘I mixed you up’, something like that”, adding that it was a “very silly non-story”.
He also clarified that he had not been contacted by the charity to step back from his role and had even received an invitation on Tuesday (12) to one of their events.
Gray denied that Zahawi, who was born in Iraq, spoke to him about the incident at the event, and that they were close friends.
The BBC reports that the charity had spoked to Gray over a week ago about stepping back from his role with the charity and that the invitation to the MP from St John Ambulance would be retracted.
“These comments were misjudged. We do not tolerate racism or discrimination of any kind,” Conservative said when asked for a response on this incident.
Gray has been accused of making the remarks in September at a reception in Parliament held to celebrate the work of St John Ambulance’s volunteers and staff during the pandemic.
As a Commander in the Order of St John, the parent charity of St John Ambulance, Mr Gray was hosting the event.
Instead of introducing Zahawi to the stage, he reportedly introduced Sajid Javid, who was also present at the event. Upon realising his mistake, he told the audience: “They all look the same to me.”
Following the event, the charity said it had asked Gray to step back from his role at the organisation.
A spokesman said: “St John does not tolerate racism in any way, shape or form.
“We spoke with James Gray following the event about our values as an open, inclusive and progressive charity.”