Local MP criticised again for comments on immigration
Gloucester MP Richard Graham has apologised after again making derogatory comments about immigrants.
Mr Graham spoke out against the principle of the right of EU citizens to have the freedom of movement to live anywhere in the European Union.
He used the example of a pregnant domestic abuse victim in his constituency who was worried her former partner - an EU citizen - would come looking for her when he is released from prison.
During a debate on Theresa May's Brexit deal, the MP said the ex-boyfriend could not be deported from the UK because he was serving less than two years' imprisonment.
He told MPs: "The hon. Gentleman said that bringing to an end free movement would be very damaging.
"What would he say to my constituent, a young Gloucester girl, eight months' pregnant and badly beaten up by her European boyfriend, who is terrified that when he comes out of prison he will return to haunt her and her family, because this country cannot deport European nationals unless they have served a sentence of longer than two years?
"Does he agree that there are some elements where actually it would be protective, not damaging?"
Mr Graham later apologised for his comments, telling MPs: "On a point of order, Mr Speaker.
"Earlier, I intervened on the hon. Member for Dundee East (Stewart Hosie) to make a point about the difference in sentencing by courts of EU nationals and those from other countries.
"I want to make it clear that I intended no disrespect to European nationals, but I made the point clumsily - I illustrated it clumsily.
"I therefore want to apologise to anyone who took offence. I promise the House that that was absolutely not intended."
In October Mr Graham was criticised after speaking of the "quite high number of foreigners claiming food bank vouchers" and in August he suggested immigrants could not use dustbins.
Dr Rebecca Trimnell, Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate for Gloucester, said: "This is the third time in about three months that Mr Graham has made unflattering comments about immigrants.
"I am fed up with asking him to apologise as he never thinks that what he is saying is prejudicial. With views like that he doesn't deserve to represent Gloucester.
"I am deeply appalled at his comments and it is beginning to look a bit like xenophobia from an MP that has for nearly 10 years represented a multi-cultural city.
"The people of Gloucester deserve a Member of Parliament who represents everyone who lives here, irrespective of their nationality. I hope people remember this at the ballot box."
Dr Trimnell added: "Mr Graham raised the important issue of domestic violence but the nationality of the perpetrator is irrelevant. He is using this to score political points against freedom of movement.
"Mr Graham should know the criminal justice system takes crimes of domestic violence very seriously.
"When passing sentence judges can make domestic abusers the subject of restraining orders banning them from contacting their victims.
"Victims can also apply for non-molestation and occupation orders in the civil courts preventing their abuser from contacting them.
"In the case that Mr Graham has highlighted, it is also possible if the perpetrator had been jailed for more than 12 months that he would be released on licence - meaning certain conditions will be placed on him when he returns to the community.
"If he breaks those conditions he could be recalled to prison."