A Conservative MP has apologised after tweeting a cartoon of the London Mayor’s head superimposed on to a balloon engaged in a sex act with an inflatable pig above the Houses of Parliament.
Michael Fabricant said he would also apologise directly to Sadiq Khan after sparking an Islamophobia row and criticism from within his own party over Thursday’s social media post.
The image was posted in the wake of the Muslim mayor’s decision to allow a “baby Donald Trump” blimp to fly near the Palace of Westminster in protest at the US President’s visit.
In a statement on Friday, Lichfield MP Mr Fabricant, who had previously criticised Mr Khan for not blocking the blimp, said he had posted the image in error.
He said: “Because I was distracted in a meeting and saw it on a tiny iPhone screen, I didn’t spot what it really was.
“When I saw the picture I thought it was just a funny cartoon of a flying pig doing something to the baby Trump blimp.”
He then realised it was “something quite different and very nasty” and deleted it after a couple of minutes, he said.
He added: “I would never deliberately put up a racist or Islamophobic tweet to offend people.”
The Conservative Party is already facing calls to hold an inquiry into allegations of Islamophobia in its ranks.
Baroness Warsi, the former party chairwoman who has been a vocal campaigner for a probe, said: “There will be an inquiry – it’s only a question of time.
“The problem in my party is too widespread for there not to be. The question is how much damage we will do to our reputation in the meantime as we drag our feet.”
A spokesman for the Hope Not Hate charity said: “This tweet is grotesque racism masquerading as a crap joke.
“Islamophobia isn’t funny. This MP has deleted it now but the Conservatives clearly have a problem they need to investigate.”
Labour’s Wes Streeting said he had raised the tweet with the Conservative chief whip Julian Smith, adding: “I’m sick of the mayor’s religion being used as a punchline and punchbag by racists and bigots. MPs should know better.”