‘You Look Very Alike’: Conservative MP Mixes Up High-Profile British Asian Ministers

Tory MP James Gray denies saying "they all look the same to me" after confusing Nadhim Zahawi with Sajid Javid, but he's been asked to step down from a charity role.
Simon Childs
London, GB
October 12, 2021, 1:23pm
Nadhim Zahawi MP (left), Secretary of State for Education and Sajid Javid (right), Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. Photos: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images
Nadhim Zahawi MP (left), Secretary of State for Education and Sajid Javid (right), Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. Photos: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

A UK Conservative MP has been asked to give up a senior charity role after mixing up two British Asian government ministers.

Tory MP James Gray, 66, was hosting an event at Parliament for the St John’s Ambulance charity where education secretary Nadhim Zahawi and health secretary Sajid Javid were both present. 

The reception took place on the 8th of September and was attended by volunteers and frontline staff for the charity to thank them for their efforts during the pandemic. Gray, who is a “Commander” in the Order of St John, parent charity of St John’s Ambulance, tried to introduce Zahawi, who has a distinctive white beard and wears glasses, but mixed him up with Javid, who is clean shaven.

When his error was pointed out, the Daily Mail newspaper reports that he said, “They all look the same to me”.

Gray has admitted confusing the two ministers but denied making this comment. In a statement issued to the Daily Mail he said, “The notion that this is some sort of racist remark is ridiculous. They are two very good friends of mine.

Advertisement

“I said: 'I am sorry to confuse the two of you. You two look very alike'. I said 'I am sorry if I got you two mixed up'.”

St John’s Ambulance asked Gray to step back from his charitable duties following the event.

St John’s Ambulance said, “St John does not tolerate racism in any way, shape or form. We spoke with James Gray following the event about our values as an open, inclusive and progressive charity.”

A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “These comments were misjudged. We do not tolerate racism or discrimination of any kind.”

In September, Gray apologised after commenting on a Tory WhatsApp group that “a bomb” should be delivered to the office of Anneliese Dodds, the Labour Party chair.

Gray was replying to a comment on a WhatsApp group from fellow Conservative MP Rob Largan.

Largan said: “Does anybody know where Anneliese Dodds' Commons office is based? I need to deliver something to her office.”

Gray replied, “A bomb, perhaps?”

The remark came as the Labour Party held its conference in Brighton, near to the Grand Hotel, where an IRA bomb killed five people at the 1984 Tory conference. Gray faced widespread criticism and calls to resign following the remark.