LONDON: Labour MP Sarah Champion has resigned as shadow women and equalities secretary and apologised for her “extremely poor choice of words” in a newspaper article in which she had linked child abuse with British Pakistanis, causing outrage.
The Labour MP said she was concerned that continuing in her shadow cabinet role would distract her from “crucial issues” around child protection.
Champion cited her column for The Sun last Friday as the reason for her apology and resignation.
In the article, she warned Britain has a “problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls”.
Champion said: “I apologise for the offence caused by the extremely poor choice of words in The Sun article on Friday.
“I am concerned that my continued position in the shadow cabinet would distract from the crucial issues around child protection which I have campaigned on my entire political career.”
“It is therefore with regret that I tender my resignation as shadow secretary of state for women and equalities,” Champion added.
“I have accepted Sarah Champion’s resignation and thank her for her work in the shadow cabinet. I look forward to working together in future,” said Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Champion’s column in The Sun followed an interview for the BBC last Thursday in which she warned that people are not raising potential cases of child abuse as they fear being labelled racist.
The Labour MP for Rotherham also told the BBC there was a need to acknowledge that the “majority of perpetrators have been British-Pakistani” in the English towns and cities where grooming gangs have targeted girls.
Champion, in The Sun article which appeared the following day, developed her thoughts on the issue.
She wrote: “Britain has a problem with British-Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls.
“There. I said it. Does that make me a racist? Or am I just prepared to call out this horrifying problem for what it is? For too long we have ignored the race of these abusers and, worse, tried to cover it up. No more. These people are predators and the common denominator is their ethnic heritage.”
Champion sought to distance herself from the article, claiming it had been altered. She initially said her piece had been altered and should “not have gone out in my name”, but the Sun said the MP’s team had approved the piece and had emailed to say they were “thrilled” with the final version.
“Sarah Champion’s column, as it appeared on Friday, was approved by her team and her adviser twice contacted us thereafter to say she was ‘thrilled’ with the piece and it ‘looked great’,” a spokeswoman said.
“Indeed, her only objection after the article appeared was her belief that her picture byline looked unflattering. Her office submitted five new pictures for further use.”
More than 100 MPs and peers have backed an open letter by Labour’s Naz Shah over The Sun’s “Nazi-like” language.
Shah, the Bradford West MP, wrote to the newspaper’s editor over a comment piece in which former political editor Trevor Kavanagh asked readers for a solution to “The Muslim Problem.”