NEWS
01/10/2019 07:22 BST | Updated 01/10/2019 11:18 BST

David Lammy Blasts Tory MP For Refusing To Apologise Over Blackface Costume

A photograph of Desmond Swayne in blackface has surfaced days after he described the racist costume as "a bit of fun".

David Lammy has condemned a senior Tory MP who refused to apologise for as a photograph surfaced of him dressed in blackface.

The image, taken at a Blues Brothers themed party and published by The Daily Telegraph, shows Desmond Swayne posing alongside his wife - who works as his secretary.

In addition to blacking up, the MP can be seen wearing a black wig and sunglasses as his spouse adorns a suit and tie, sunglasses and a pork pie hat.

Lammy tweeted: “For those who have been victims of racism there aren’t words for how grim it is that Tory MP @DesmondSwayne refuses to apologize for blacking up”.

Calling for the prime minister to expel Swayne from Conservative Party, the Tottenham MP added: ”@BorisJohnson unless the @Conservatives have become unapologetically racist you will now remove the whip”.

The Telegraph reportedly showed the image to Swayne on Monday at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, where he acknowledged it was his wife but became hesitant to confirm his own identity.

He explained that the photo was taken “years ago,” adding: “It is definitely my wife. What does this add to what I have already said? Nothing.”

Questioned over whether or not the man in the photograph was him, Swayne told The Telegraph: “It might be is all I can say. I can’t deny it. I don’t know the provenance of this photograph. It was years ago.”

It comes days after Swayne, the New Forest West MP, described wearing blackface as an “entirely acceptable bit of fun” - coming close to admitting he has done so himself.

Swayne said he once went to a party as the singer James Brown and dressed as “authentic as possible”.

The comments were made in a blog post on his website in which he defended Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau has seen his general election campaign overshadowed by the revelation he wore blackface or brownface on multiple occasions in the past.

Swayne, a former international development minister who received a knighthood from David Cameron in 2016, wrote earlier this month: “I suspect that Justin Trudeau’s cringing apology for blacking himself ‘blinded by his own white privilege’ has done him rather more harm than the original offence.

“It was a themed ‘Arabian Nights’ fancy-dress party for heaven’s sake!

“It comes to something when you can’t dress-up as Aladdin without attracting the opprobrium of the ‘great and good’. He would have done better to have said it was an entirely acceptable bit of fun and refused to apologise.

“I once went to a ‘Blues Brothers’ themed fancy-dress party as James Brown. I went to some trouble to be as authentic as possible. I can assure readers of this column that I have no intention of apologising.”

The MP added he often heard from constituents who were “infuriated by some latest absurdity of political correctness”.