A senior Tory MP has been asked to step back from his public activities with St John Ambulance after he allegedly confused two senior Asian ministers at a reception in Parliament.
James Gray, the member for North Wiltshire, is said to have mixed up Nadhim Zahawi with Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, when introducing the former at the event, before reportedly stating: “They all look the same to me.”
Mr Zahawi, who was at the time the UK’s vaccine minister, is said to have confronted the MP about the remark afterwards. Mr Gray has denied making the remark or that he was spoken to by Mr Zahawi afterwards.
The incident is said to have occurred on September 8 in front of 50 guests, including the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, with Mr Gray hosting the reception to thank St John Ambulance volunteers and frontline staff for what he described as their “extraordinary efforts” during the pandemic.
MP needs ‘time to reflect’
According to the Mail Online, a source familiar with the controversy said: “Gray introduced Mr Zahawi to the stage as the Health Minister at the reception and made the remarks when corrected.
“He told the people in the room: ‘They all look the same to me’. He acknowledged to the audience that his comments weren’t appropriate but in a low-key, jokey way.