Howard Beckett has reiterated his apology for saying Priti Patel should be deported after he was suspended from the Labour party, with the nominee to lead the Unite union saying some people had read a tweet he sent too literally.
Beckett, who is also a member of Labour’s national executive committee, was suspended from the party on Thursday after sending a tweet in response to an attempt to deport two asylum seekers in Glasgow, which was thwarted by protesters.
“Priti Patel should be deported, not refugees,” Beckett said in the message, which was deleted 30 minutes later. “She can go along with anyone else who supports institutional racism. She is disgusting.”
Asked about the tweet by Sky News, Beckett said: “I certainly didn’t mean it to be taken literally. The idea that I would think that a home secretary would or should be deported, I’m against all forms of deportation.
“Obviously, what I was trying to do was highlight the fact that Priti Patel was taking a position from elitism and privilege, one that is racist.
“This is the state carrying out racist legislation, and I wanted to highlight that. And obviously, I regret the words that were used. Some people read it in the literal context and I apologise for those words.”
Saying also that his description of Patel as “disgusting” was inappropriate, Beckett denied he had shown unconscious racism by suggesting the deportation of a politician whose parents were immigrants to the UK.
"No, that’s nonsense, and anybody who knows me, who was reading my tweets, knows that’s nonsense," Egli ha detto. “I don’t look at Priti Patel and see her migrant background, or the colour of her skin. I look at Priti Patel and I see the racist agenda, the racist policies, that are being carried out.”
Beckett defended the wider aim of what he had said: “The intention of the tweet was to draw to the attention of the wider public what is going on right now in society, and that is that we are seeing institutionalised racism become the norm. We have to call that out.”
UN Lavoro duro e faticoso statement on Thursday evening said: "Il Lavoro duro e faticoso party takes these allegations extremely seriously and appropriate action will be taken.” It was later reported that he had been suspended.
Gurinder Singh Josan, a member of Labour’s NEC who is also a Unite member, ha scritto: “I totally disagree on pretty much everything with Priti Patel, but this is simply dog-whistle racism against a woman of colour.”
Beckett told Sky he had not had “the courtesy” of being informed he had been suspended, but that if it had happened it was “completely and utterly inappropriate”.
Egli ha detto: “It was correct that we should all be highlighting racist agendas. And I hope very quickly people in the Labour party see sense, and if there is a suspension they will remove it immediately.”
Beckett is one of four candidates running to replace Len McCluskey, Oms will stand down as Unite leader later this year.
The race to succeed him was launched last month and the new general secretary will be in place by September following an election. The runner-up in a 2017 leadership race, Gerard Coyne, is standing against union officials Steve Turner, Sharon Graham and Beckett.