Tories stand by candidate who said those on Benefits Street needed ‘putting down’
- Credit: Archant
Senior Tories say they are standing by a candidate in a key marginal seat who wrote on Facebook that people on Benefits Street need 'putting down'.
Welsh Conservative Party chairman Byron Davies said Francesca O'Brien had made her comments in the "heat of the moment", while work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey said the incident was a matter for constituents.
O'Brien, who was selected in the South Wales constituency of Gower, was due to attend a meeting with senior Welsh Tory figures after apologising for the series of inflammatory remarks on social media.
But a Tory source said it was unlikely she would be deselected from the race ahead of the general election.
Lord Davies of Gower, who was MP for Gower between 2015 and 2017, said on Monday: "The comments were inadvisable, obviously, but made in the heat of the moment watching a television programme.
You may also want to watch:
"But I don't condone it in any shape or form.
"However, this is a dredging exercise on the part of the Labour Party whose candidate in the Gower doesn't want to talk about Brexit."
- 1 A lesson from the last of Mainwaring's men
- 2 Scathing report accuses Boris Johnson of 'only caring for England'
- 3 The stench of scandal seeping out from Britain
- 4 No 10 rewrote race disparity report, expert claims
- 5 How the vaccines have shifted opinions over Brexit
- 6 Nick Clegg says EU 'let itself and millions of Europeans' down over Covid vaccine programme
- 7 No 10: ‘Significant differences’ between UK and EU remain over resolving Brexit deal
- 8 European Council president faces call to resign over 'Sofagate' incident
- 9 Exports to EU increase in February after record fall
- 10 Why the EU is no longer the elephant in the room in the Netherlands
Coffey told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the social media comments were "clearly wrong", but said the question of whether O'Brien should remain as a Tory candidate would be for constituents.
Coffey said: "I think that will be a decision for the people of Gower to make the choice on who they want to be their next member of parliament."
O'Brien's Facebook post said: "Benefit Street.. anyone else watching this?? Wow, these people are unreal!!!"
Replying to a friend's comment, she added: "My blood is boiling, these people need putting down."
O'Brien and her team chose to temporarily pause campaigning after the since-deleted remarks from January 2014 were first reported by the Guardian.
In a statement she said: "These comments were made off the cuff, a number of years ago.
"However, I accept that my use of language was unacceptable and I would like to apologise for any upset I have caused."
Labour's Tonia Antoniazzi won the seat in 2017 with 22,727 votes, 3,269 ahead of the Conservative candidate.