Conservative MP Anne Marie Morris | Youtube, Palm News

The Context

  • Anne Marie Morris, the Conservative Party Member of Parliament (MP) for Newton Abbot since 2010, was recorded by HuffPost UK using a racial idiom to describe the post-Brexit financial stability of the UK.
  • The panel was discussing the financial challenges of Brexit — specifically, the prospect of the UK leaving the EU without having secured a deal — according to the Huffington Post report, when Morris made the remark. Morris was recorded saying:

“Now I’m sure there will be many people who’ll challenge that, but my response and my request is look at the detail, it isn’t all doom and gloom. Now we get to the real nigger in the woodpile, which is, in two years what happens if there is no deal?”

The idiom

  • The phrase, “nigger in the woodpile,” originated in the American south in the 19th century and was initially used to describe fugitive slaves who were forced to hide in piles of firewood while fleeing north, according to Wikipedia and the Telegraph.
    • In 20th century Great Britain, the phrase developed into a metaphor to describe a hidden fact or problem.
  • Merriam-Webster defines the “dated, now offensive” idiom as, “something (as a concealed motive or obscure factor) contrary to appearances in a situation.”

The Facts

  • Three hours after HuffPost UK published the recording, UK Prime Minister Theresa May ordered the suspension of Morris for using the racial idiom.
  • May admonished the remarks and announced the suspension in a statement:

“I immediately asked the Chief Whip to suspend the party whip. Language like this has absolutely no place in politics or in today’s society.”

  • Anne Marie Morris apologized “for any offense caused,” telling the BBC:


  • Morris appeared on the panel alongside Conservative Party colleagues Bill Cash and John Redwood.
  • Labour MP Chuka Umunna tweeted:

  • Redwood has since responded to the incident, telling Buzzfeed:

“I don’t recall her using a bad word, perhaps I wasn’t paying attention. I’m not happy at all with that sort of expression. I think that’s all I can say. The panelists were making their own comments in their way. Each person was making their own comments and we had to get off for another meeting. I can only say that I was not happy with the references.”

  • The Labour Party’s co-national campaign coordinator, Andrew Gwynne, said in a statement:

“Anne Marie Morris’ comments are outrageous and totally unacceptable. While the Conservative Party has tabled a debate on Wednesday to apparently discuss and condemn abuse of candidates in the General Election, these comments prove their hypocrisy.

Theresa May once spoke about changing the Tories’ ‘Nasty Party’ tag. If she’s serious about that, she will admit it’s not enough for the Tories to ‘investigate’ and will apologize and act immediately. If that means withdrawing the whip, that’s what they should do.”

  • Colton Richards, who was present in the audience when Morris made the remarks, told HuffPost UK:

“It was disgusting to hear those comments by somebody in public life. It was almost as though she felt like she was talking to her friends in a private audience.”

  • Tim Farron, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said, according to the Guardian:

“This disgusting comment belongs in the era of the Jim Crow laws and has no place in our parliament.

The Conservative Party should withdraw the whip from Anne Marie Morris and they should do it today. Every hour they leave her in place is a stain on them and the so-called ‘compassionate conservatism’ they supposedly espouse. I am utterly shocked that this person represents the good people of Newton Abbot.”

  • Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion and co-leader of the Green Party, tweeted:

  • Before May responded, Labour MP Tulip Siddiq tweeted:

  • Julia Hartley-Brewer, a radio presenter and journalist, tweeted:

  • Conservative MP Heidi Allen tweeted:

  • Guardian columnist Owen Jones tweeted:

Mark Goldbach contributed to this report.

The Whim News Team

The Whim News Desk

We'd rather be second and accurate than be first and wrong. The Whim News Desk is a dedicated team of researchers and investigators committed to presenting the news without bias. Follow us @TheWhimOnline for daily news coverage without the spin!

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