One of the seven MPs who split from the Labour Party has said she made a widely-criticised comment about skin colour because she was “very very tired”.
Speaking on the BBC’s Politics Live programme following the announcement on Monday, Smith said discrimination was “not just about colour”, and appeared to say non-white people have a “funny tinge”.
Questioned on Sky News by Kay Burley about why she described BAME people in that way, Smith reiterated that she had “misspoke”.
“I never meant to say that. I misspoke really badly, I was very, very tired at that point – I’d had six hours of press engagement and I was very tired,” she said.
“I was very tired I misspoke really really badly and that’s not who I am. I’m very confident about that it’s not who I am and I think anybody who knows me would verify that.”
The Penistone and Stocksbridge MP sparked outrage by the original comment, which was made during a panel discussion about how big a problem racism is in the UK.
“The recent history of the party I’ve just left suggest that it’s not just about being black or a funny tin… you know, from the BME community,” she said.
The reaction from political commentators and her former colleagues was swift.
Labour’s Rupa Huq MP said: “They claim their new Party is anti racist and modern yet in the same breath describe black, asian and minority ethnic people as having ‘a funny tinge’.
“This is, at best, the casual racism of the 70s that I thought we’d long left behind. But it will strike many as an appalling, racist comment. Is the Independent Group going to investigate?”