surgery

Under-fire MP Anne Marie Morris cancels Newton Abbot surgery

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Under-pressure Newton Abbot MP Anne-Marie Morris was absent from her planned surgery in the town on Thursday morning. The Conservative MP, who has been stripped of the party whip after being recorded making a racist remark, had been due to meet constituents at one of her regular sessions at the Passmore Edwards Centre.

However, there was no sign of Ms Morris at the centre, where staff said the surgery had been called off. There was no news of the cancellation on Ms Morris’ website ahead of the surgery. Her Twitter feed has not been updated since the n-word controversy broke, and neither has her Facebook page.

However, it is understood that around a dozen people had made appointments to see her on Thursday morning, and they had all been notified of the cancellation.

TV crews and journalists milled around outside the centre, which also houses the town’s library.

Ms Morris hit headlines worldwide when she was recorded describing the UK leaving the EU without a deal as a “real n*****r in the woodpile” at the launch of a report into the future for the UK’s lucrative financial sector after Brexit. She has since apologised for the remarks, saying: “The comment was unintentional and I apologise unreservedly for any offence caused.”

But she has had the whip suspended by the Conservative Party, which means that although she is still an MP, she is no longer a Conservative MP. Local Tories have said they support her, and have described the issue as ‘a storm in a teacup’. However, there have also been calls for her to resign.


READ MORE: Newton Abbot Tories support their MP despite the racism row


There was support for Ms Morris outside the centre as the clock ticked around to the surgery opening time of 11am with no sign of the star of the show.

Local backer Martin Warne, a member of Northern Ireland’s balance-of-power-holding Democratic Unionist Party, described himself as Anne Marrie Morris’ staunchest supporter. He said he wasn’t surprised that she had cancelled the surgery after ‘all the negative publicity and unfair criticism’.

“She said something unfortunate and she regrets it,” he said. “The reaction has been totally out of proportion. It has been hostile, it has been a lot of negative publicity and grossly unfair criticism for an unfortunate comment.


COMMENT: Why it’s hard to see a way forward for Anne Marie Morris after this


“It was an outdated comment which I’m sure Anne Marie immediately regretted, and has apologised for. It certainly hasn’t weakened her position in one of the strongest seats in England.

“There have been a few calls for her to resign as MP from a few people, but there are 28,635 reasons for her to stay, and I believe she will.”

The 28,635 figure is the number of people who voted for Anne Marie Morris in the Newton Abbot constituency in the recent General Election.

Other supporters also made their voices heard. Steve Brookes said he had come to show his support in Latin, saying ‘nil desperandum’, or do not despair, and ‘illegitimi non carborundum’, or don’t let the bastards grind you down.

He added: “This is a total storm in a teacup. If this is all this country has got to worry about, then God help us all.”

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Anne Marie Morris’ surgery event on Thursday WILL still go ahead…

Anne Marie Morris’ regular surgeries to give residents in the Newton Abbot constituency an opportunity to meet with her and discuss any issues they may like to raise is still going ahead on Thursday.

Ms Morris described the UK leaving the EU without a deal as a “real n*****r in the woodpile” at the launch of a report into the future for the UK’s lucrative financial sector after Brexit.

She has since apologised for the remarks, saying: “The comment was unintentional and I apologise unreservedly for any offence caused.”

But she has had the whip suspended by the Conservative Party, which means that although she is still an MP, she is no longer a Conservative MP.

An urgent investigation into the remarks had been launched by the Conservative Party. A spokesman for CCHQ said: “We are aware of these reports, this kind of language is completely unacceptable, and we are urgently investigating.”

Theresa May said: “I was shocked to hear of these remarks, which are completely unacceptable I immediately asked the Chief Whip to suspend the party whip.

“Language like this has absolutely no place in politics or in today’s society.”

Ms Morris is due to hold one of her regular surgeries to give residents in the Newton Abbot constituency an opportunity to meet with her and discuss any issues they may like to raise on Thursday.

A spokesman for her confirmed to Devon Live on Tuesday morning that the surgery is still going ahead as planned.

The surgery takes place from 11am to 12pm at The Passmore Edwards Centre, Market Street, Newton Abbot.

Rather like a doctor’s surgery, constituents are invited to book an appointment to discuss their concerns in advance.

Devon Live readers have said that Anne Marie Morris should resign as an MP after she was recorded using the N-word at a meeting of eurosceptics in Central London, with a poll on our website saying that 82 per cent of our readers saying she should resign

Now Stand up to Racism have said that they will be pursuing a formal complaint to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and have said that such racist language harks back to the horrors of slavery in the American deep South.

Weyman Bennett co-convenor of Stand up to Racism says “There is no excuse for the use of this disgusting racist language, least of all from an MP, Anne Marie Morris should resign immediately. If she fails to do so Theresa May should withdraw the Conservative party whip from Ms Morris and she should be suspended from the House of Commons.”

An urgent investigation into the remarks had been launched by the Conservative Party. A spokesman for CCHQ said: “We are aware of these reports, this kind of language is completely unacceptable, and we are urgently investigating.”

Theresa May said: “I was shocked to hear of these remarks, which are completely unacceptable I immediately asked the Chief Whip to suspend the party whip.

“Language like this has absolutely no place in politics or in today’s society.”

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Labour’s national campaign co-ordinator Andrew Gwynne, has called for her to resign. He said: “Anne Marie Morris’ comments are outrageous and totally unacceptable.

“While the Conservative Party has tabled a debate on Wednesday to apparently discuss and condemn abuse of candidates in the General Election, these comments prove their hypocrisy.

“Theresa May once spoke about changing the Tories’ ‘nasty party’ tag.

“If she’s serious about that, she will admit it’s not enough for the Tories to ‘investigate’ and will apologise and act immediately. If that means withdrawing the whip, that’s what they should do.”

Conservative MPs have said that suspending the whip from Anne Marie Morris is the right decision, but most have stopped short of saying that she should resign.

James Cleverly, the Conservative MP for Braintree, said; “Shocked & disappointed that Anne Marie Morris was so thoughtless & insensitive in her use of language. Suspending the whip is right decision.”

Kevin Foster, MP for Torbay, said: “Her comments were not appropriate and she has rightly apologised unreservedly for any offence caused.”

But Heidi Allen, MP for South Cambridgeshire, called for Ms Morris to resign. She said: “I’m afraid an apology is not good enough – we must show zero tolerance for racism. MPs must lead by example.”

Luke Pollard, MP for Plymouth Sutton & Devonport, said that her racist language is completely unacceptable and that she must decide whether to resign.

It echoes calls for her resignation that have been made by fellow politicians in Teignbridge.

Marie Chadwick, who was the Liberal Democrat candidate at the General Election in June, has called for her resignation and said that she has shown her true colours with the remarks.

Mrs Chadwick said: “She should resign and she needs to resign. She has a history of associating herself with people who hold dubious views and now she has shown that not only does she hold those views, she is not afraid to speak about them.

“You simply cannot have people who hold these views representing residents in parliament.

“It is worrying for the constituents that she is the MP who represents them and she has shown with these comments that she is simply not up to the job and she needs to resign.

Richard Younger-Ross, who was the former MP for Teignbridge but lost his seat to her in 2010, said: “Ms Morris is MP who does little except offend, is one of the worst MPs for replying to correspondence, an MP who seems to be rarely in her constituency, and an MP who seems to do little.

“If she was engaged with people, real people, she would not have said such an odious comment that offends people.

“She is simply out of touch. She will not resign as an MP, but she should make it clear that she will not re-stand.”

Ms Morris made the astonishing remark while discussing what financial services deal the UK could struck with Brussels after 2019.

Despite using the racist term, none of her fellow panelists, including Tory MPs Bill Cash and John Redwood, reacted to the comment.

After saying just seven per cent of financial services in the UK would be affected by Brexit, Morris, who campaigned to leave the EU, said: “Now I’m sure there will be many people who’ll challenge that, but my response and my request is look at the detail, it isn’t all doom and gloom.

“Now we get to the real n****r in the woodpile which is in two years what happens if there is no deal?”

It comes just after she was forced to distance herself from comments made by her electoral agent and partner at a hustings who claimed ‘that the crisis in education was due entirely to non-British born immigrants and their high birth rates’.

Roger Kendrick and Anne Marie Morris

During the debate around education and fair funding of schools, a member of the public stood up and said: ‘that the crisis in education was due entirely to non-British born immigrants and their high birth rates’.

The person who made that remark was Roger Kendrick, who is both Anne Marie Morris’s partner and her electoral agent.

In response, Anne Marie Morris told DevonLive: “I don’t share the views expressed by Roger Kendrick.”