Racism row after Tory MP ‘says Sajid Javid and Nadhim Zahawi look the same’

James Gray admits confusing the two politicians but denies making racist comments

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Tuesday 12 October 2021 17:02
<p>Tory MP James Gray </p>

Tory MP James Gray

A Tory MP has become embroiled in a race row after confusing two of his party's most senior British Asian politicians and reportedly declaring: “They all look the same”.

James Gray admits mixing up Nadhim Zahawi and Sajid Javid at a parliamentary reception for St John's Ambulance last month and saying they look alike.

But he denies making racist comments, as well as eyewitness accounts that he was spoken to by Mr Zahawi after the incident.

The MP says he is “very close friends” with both MPs – who are among the most high-profile politicians in Westminster.

Mr Javid has held the top offices of Home Secretary, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Health Secretary, while Mr Zahawi was on television several times a week during the Covid pandemic as vaccines minister.

Following the incident, Mr Gray has been asked to step back from his role as a parliamentary advocate for the ambulance service.

St John's Ambulance 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."

The MP denies the quote attributed to him that “they all look the same to me” – but admits saying the pair of high-profile politicians look alike.

Mr Gray told MailOnline, which first reported the story: “The notion that this is some sort of racist remark is ridiculous. They are two very good friends of mine,” he said.

“I said, ‘I am sorry to confuse the two of you. You two look very alike.” I said, ‘I am sorry if I got you two mixed up.’

“The idea that this is racist is completely untrue. Nadhim did not speak to me about it afterwards, he spoke to a lot of people. They are very close friends of me, both men.”

Mr Gray told the outlet that he had not mixed them up before, adding: “They are very close friends of me, both men.”

The Conservative party is yet to comment on the matter.

The revelation comes after another Conservative MP, Jonathan Gullis, was caught on tape saying anyone using the term “white privilege” should be referred to the Home Office as an extremist.

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