Tory MP Lee Anderson has been reprimanded by party whips over a rant about Traveller communities which was branded “extremist”.
During a debate on the Policing bill, the Tory MP for Ashfield said Travellers were not “traditional, old-fashioned Gypsies” – and branded them thieves.
Mr Anderson has been in the news since then over his one-man boycott of the England football team – after he took exception to players taking the knee in protest against racism.
In the Commons, Mr Anderson said: “The Gypsy encampments that we are talking about in places such as Ashfield are not the traditional, old-fashioned Gypsies sat there playing the mandolin, flogging lucky heather and telling fortunes.
“The Travellers I am talking about are more likely to be seen leaving your garden shed at 3 o’clock in the morning, probably with your lawnmower and half of your tools.
“That happens every single time they come to Ashfield.”
The remarks sparked anger, with Friends, Families and Travellers a charity that works on behalf Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities calling for him to resign, and accusing him of “fanning the flames of racial tension.”
Sarah Sweeney, the Charity’s Policy and Communications Manager, said: “Anderson assumes all Travellers to be criminals and by that token would have all Travellers locked up – simply for existing. This is an extremist view and Anderson should be ashamed of himself.”
Labour MP Mary Kelly Foy made a formal complaint to Tory chair Amanda Milling.
Responding to the complaint, Ms Milling said Mr Anderson had been reprimanded over the language he used.
She wrote: “The language used is not language that the Party would condone, nor language that I would personally used.
“Having discussed these matters with the Chief Whip, I can inform you that he has spoken to the MP concerned to remind him of the standards expected of him when conducting his duties both in Parliament and elsewhere.”
But Ms Foy branded the response a “light scolding”, and said it was not enough.
She tweeted: “If you were racist at work then you would lose your job. If you’re in the Conservatives you get a light scolding.
“One rule for them and another for you. I’m sorry, Amanda Milling, but as long as Lee Anderson represents the Conservative Party then you condone his comments.”
The Mirror has contacted Mr Anderson for comment.