Black British MP ‘mistaken for cleaner’ by fellow MP

As a guest on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Piennar’s Politics on Sunday, British MP Dawn Butler said she had experienced several incidents of racism during her time in the Palace of Westminster.

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“There was a time when I was in the lift,” she told host John Pienaar.

“It was a Members’ lift that Members of Parliament use specially in cases [where] we have get to places quickly.”

“I was in the lift and some other MP said, ‘This lift really isn’t for cleaners’.” 

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Ms Butler did not disclose to the radio program which MP said it.

In 2008, the 46-year-old became the third black woman to be elected into parliament, and she was re-elected in last year’s general election.

Ms Butler also wrote an article in 2008, describing how former Conservative minister David Heathcote-Amory confronted her as she went to sit in the Members’ section on the terrace.

“He actually said to me, ‘what are you doing here? This is for Members only’,” she wrote.

“This man could not equate the image he saw in front of him with that of an MP. It was quite upsetting for my team and so we had to take it further.”

“He then proceeded to ask me, ‘are you a member?’ And I said, ‘yes I am, are you?‘ And he turned around and said to his colleague, ‘They’re letting anybody in nowadays.’

“This man could not equate the image he saw in front of him with that of an MP. It was quite upsetting for my team and so we had to take it further.”

Mr Heathcote-Amory rejected the allegation at the time and accused Ms Butler of being overly politically correct.

He said Ms Butler’s claim was “quite absurd” and that he: “Simply asked her what she was doing at that end of the terrace, and they are quite sensitive about this kind of thing, they think that any kind of reprimand from anyone is racially-motivated.”

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