A Tory MP has been asked to step back from all activity with St John Ambulance after he confused two senior Asian ministers and allegedly said "they all look the same".
James Gray, the Conservative MP for North Wiltshire, was hosting a parliamentary reception last month to recognise the efforts of the first aid charity’s volunteers and front-line staff.
The Daily Mail newspaper reported that at the event, Gray mistook Nadhim Zahawi, then vaccines minister, but since promoted to education secretary, for Sajid Javid, the health secretary, before allegedly telling guests “They all look the same to me,” once the error was pointed out.
Gray denied using the phrase but admitted he did confuse the two men.
The report suggests that the 50 guests, who also included the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, were left stunned by the remark.
Gray, who holds the honorary title of commander in the Order of St John, has been asked to step back from all activities with the charity following the event.
It is unclear whether he will retain the title with the charity.
A spokesman for St John 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.”
The MP did not respond to a request for comment from Third Sector but he told the Daily Mail that he had not said “They all look the same to me,” but admitted confusing the men with each other.
He added that they were also close, long-term friends of his.