A member of the UK’s House of Lords has been labelled “racist” after he called US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris “the Indian” in apparent reference to her South Asian heritage, while speculating about her becoming president.
“What happens if Biden moves on and the Indian becomes President. Who then becomes Vice President?” Lord John Kilclooney’s tweet read.
This is not the first time Kilclooney, a former Ulster Unionist Party deputy leader, has caused a stir for his racially inappropriate language. He previously branded Leo Varadkar, the Irish Prime Minister whose father hailed from Mumbai, as a “typical Indian.”
His remark about Harris sparked a swift backlash from many on social media. Labour MP Wes Streeting criticized the peer, tweeting: “He did it before to Leo Varadkar and now he’s done it to Kamala Harris. This sort of racism would be unacceptable from anyone, but from a member of the House of Lords it beggars belief. Action must be taken.”
Simon Hoare, a Conservative MP who also chairs the Commons Northern Ireland affairs select committee, wrote that Kilclooney’s remarks are “Bad. Rude. Racist. Appalling.” Hoare also added that he had submitted a formal complaint to the Lord Speaker’s office in response to Kilclooney’s words.
Kilclooney subsequently blocked Hoare on Twitter, a move Hoare welcomed: “I consider it a blessing.”
The speaker of the upper house, Baron Fowler, said that Kilclooney should retract his comment and apologize, adding that this was no way to refer to anyone, “let alone a woman who has just made history.”
Lord Kilclooney should retract and apologise. This is an offensive way to refer to anyone, let alone a woman who has just made history. The comment is entirely unacceptable and has no place in British politics. I could not be clearer.
— Lord Speaker (@LordSpeaker) November 9, 2020
Kilclooney later said he withdrew his remark, tweeting: “Whilst Biden is proud to be Irish and Harris is rightly proud of her Indian background I certainly withdraw my reference to her as an Indian as it seems to have upset some people.”
He also denied it was a racist comment and said that people had misunderstood his earlier tweet.
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