Sarah Champion has resigned as shadow equalities minister over her incendiary article about grooming gangs in The Sun.
The Labour MP for Rotherham caused controversy by writing a piece about the Newcastle paedophile ring, which the tabloid headlined: “British Pakistanis ARE raping white girls… and we need to face up to it”.
This sparked accusations of racism, including from figures in her own party. Naz Shah, the Labour MP for Bradford West, wrote in the Independent: “Such an incendiary headline and article is not only irresponsible but is also setting a very dangerous precedent and must be challenged.”
Champion initially tried to distance herself from how the article was framed, claiming that the opening paragraphs were edited and “stripped of nuance”. The paper, however, said her team approved the piece and were “thrilled” with it.
In her resignation statement, Champion apologised for causing offence: “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.”
In a comment decrying The Sun‘s general Islamophobia-inciting coverage, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn warned against “attempts to brand communities or ethnic or religious groups, wittingly or unwittingly”.