Priti Patel today branded dozens of black and Asian MPs “racist” for accusing her of brushing over their experiences of racism in society.
The Home Secretary made the claim after 32 MPs united to condemn comments she made on racism in the House of Commons.
The MPs said her claim not to take “lectures” on racism was “gaslighting” – manipulating someone to doubt their own experiences.
But Ms Patel, born to a Ugandan-Indian family in London, claimed the MPs didn’t like that she is a BAME Tory woman adding: “That in itself is racist.”
It comes after Ms Patel was confronted earlier this month by the black Labour MP Florence Eshalomi.
The Vauxhall MP had urged Ms Patel to “act now” on “structural inequality, discrimination and racism” and asked if she “actually understand[s] the anger and frustration” felt by people across the UK.
But in an exchange that went viral online, Ms Patel replied: “It must have been a very different Home Secretary who as a child was frequently called a P*** in the playground.
“A very different Home Secretary who was racially abused in the streets or even advised to drop her surname and use her husband’s in order to advance her career.
“So, when it comes to racism, sexism, tolerance for social justice, I will not take lectures from the other side of the House.”
A group of 32 Labour MPs later wrote to Ms Patel accusing her of “gaslighting” them by dismissing their experiences on the basis of her own.
Their letter said: “We write to you as black, Asian and ethnic minority Labour MPs to highlight our dismay at the way you used your heritage and experiences of racism to gaslight the very real racism faced by black people and communities across the UK.
“Our shared experiences allow us to feel the pain that communities feel, when they face racism.
“They allow us to show solidarity towards a common cause; they do not allow us to define, silence or impede on the feelings that other minority groups may face.”
But hitting back today, Ms Patel claimed people have a problem with her because she is a Conservative woman from a BAME background.
Asked if that was the case, she told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge: “I think clearly in the case of those Labour MPs, they simply do.
“Primarily because they clearly take the stance and the position that I just don’t conform to their pre-conceived idea, or stereotypical view, of what an ethnic minority woman should stand for an represent.
“In my view, that in itself is racist.
“So it’s very disappointing. And I’ve made it quite clear I’m not going to dignify that letter any further.”
Shadow minister Naz Shah and other Labour MPs, including Ms Eshalomi, Diane Abbott, Tan Dhesi and Rosena Allin-Khan, all signed the letter.