Michael Fabricant has faced a backlash of criticism after tweeting that he would “end up punching” journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown “in the throat” if he ever had to appear on a discussion programme with her.
His tweet came after Ms Alibhai-Brown appeared on Channel 4 News on Thursday evening, where she became embroiled in a heated debate with the Spectator columnist Rod Liddle.
At one point during the exchange, which discussed race, religion and British values, she told Mr Liddle: "I have no words for how much I loathe you." Mr Liddle responded with: "I feel warm inside and I'd like to embrace Yasmin for saying that."
The Conservative MP for Lichfield received an angry barrage of tweets just minutes after the post, with Gloria De Piero, the shadow minister for women and equalities, calling it "a disgusting thing to say" and asking for him to apologise immediately.
He also retweeted a comment by another Twitter user that called for Ms Alibhai-Brown, who came to the UK from Uganda in 1972, "to be deported".
Downing Street was quick to distance itself from Mr Fabricant’s comment, and later reinforced their displeasure at his remark with: "The Prime Minister thinks that Michael Fabricant's comments were completely unacceptable and in poor taste.”
"There is never any excuse for suggesting violence."
Others described his comment as "disgusting" and condemned him for "threatening physical violence" while standing as an elected representative.
Speaking to The Independent this morning: Mr Fabricant insisted: "I wouldn't have tweeted it if I didn't think it was appropriate" and said he was unaware that anyone had asked for him to apologise because he had not checked his Twitter feed.
But after initially defending his tweet, he later apologised to Ms Alibhai-Brown via Twitter.
The Conservative party also demanded an apology from the politician. A spokesperson said: "Mr Fabricant's comments were completely unacceptable, in poor taste and he should immediately apologise."
@Mike_Fabricant Unbelievably appalling comment for a member of parliament to make in public (or anywhere). Quite shocked.; Rob Shaw (@r0b_shaw) June 20, 2014
After the Twitter furore, Mr Fabricant tweeted: "Just out of dentist. It appears that some people who don't know me think I actually go round punching "in the throat". Not true.
"If anyone believes I would seriously threaten someone with violence, I of course withdraw and apologise.
"I am afraid I know I would get v angry if I had been on the Ch4 debate last night. Glad it was Rod Liddle and not me!"
He later reinforced his apology with the tweet: "So just for the avoidance of any doubt: I am v sorry for tweet. It was wrong to joke abt punching + I completely withdraw and apologise”.