Outrage as MP goes over the top

Fran Abrams,Colin Brown
Wednesday 05 March 1997 00:02

The Prime Minister was last night urged to deselect a right-wing MP who made outrageously racist and sexist remarks in an interview with a school magazine.

Details of the outburst by David Evans, Conservative MP for Welwyn and Hatfield, emerged after John Major had repudiated a Commons suggestion by another backbench MP that he should attack Labour's plans to liberalise the immigration laws - a clear signal that he would not allow the Conservatives to play the race card in the election.

Mr Evans told sixth-formers that his Labour opponent, Melanie Johnson, a magistrate and a schools inspector, had "three bastard children" and had never had a proper job.

He referred to "some black bastard" who had raped a schoolgirl and said rapists should be castrated. He added that he believed the Birmingham Six were guilty, before referring to Virginia Bottomley, the Heritage Secretary, as "dead from the neck upwards".

Talking to the pupils of Stanborough School, Mr Evans said Ms Johnson did not have "a hope in hell" in the election. "Well, she's a single girl, lives with her boyfriend, three bastard children, lives in Cambridge. People have to make their mind up."

The newly drawn constituency is, in fact, Labour's 72nd target seat with a notional majority of 6,500.

Mrs Bottomley had gained her position by being one of only a few women in Parliament, he said. "So then women get promoted, like Virginia Bottomley, who's dead from the neck upwards, right?" He also described the Prime Minister as "vindictive and unforgiving".

Ms Johnson, who has lived with her partner, with whom she has three children, for 18 years, accused the MP of gutter politics. Labour called for his deselection.

Last night Mr Evans, who ran John Redwood's leadership campaign, said he had apologised to Mrs Bottomley, although he was unrepentant on his other remarks. "If you have three children out of wedlock, whether you like it or not they are bastards. It was a light-hearted interview."

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