A Labour MP has been accused of making racist remarks to a British-Chinese journalist in a House of Commons bar.
Neil Coyle, MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, has reportedly been banned from all bars on the parliamentary estate after an alleged incident in which he made a Sinophobic remark about the appearance of Henry Dyer, a Business Insider reporter.
Mr Dyer said the pair had been discussing Barry Gardiner, a Labour MP who received funds from a suspected Chinese spy, when Mr Coyle said his colleague had been “paid by Fu Manchu”, a cartoon villain that draws on traditional Chinese stereotypes.
The journalist said that he suggested the reference to a “Chinese trope” was not appropriate and noted that he was British-Chinese.
He said the MP told him his heritage was apparent “from how you look like you’ve been giving renminbi to Barry Gardiner”.
As he left the bar that night, Mr Dyer said he wanted to defuse the tension with Mr Coyle, so waved him goodbye. He said the MP responded by sticking two fingers up at him.
The incident is said to have taken place on Tuesday 1 February, Chinese New Year.
The remarks left Mr Dyer feeling “uncomfortable” and he said that he reported the incident to the Speaker of the House of Commons.
Mr Dyer said: “The speaker and his staff took immediate action … to suspend Coyle from the bars on the parliamentary estate pending an investigation by the Labour Whips office into the incidents on Monday and Tuesday evening.”
Mr Coyle did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Independent. Business Inisder cited a source as saying he had apologised and would be willing to do so again. The source was said to add that Mr Coyle accepted the language was “crass, inappropriate and insensitive”.
The news site reported that the bar ban on Mr Coyle will last for six months.
The Labour Party confirmed that it was aware of the allegation against Mr Coyle.
A spokesperson said: “The Labour Party expects the highest standards of behaviour from all our MPs and we take any allegations of this sort very seriously.”
Mr Coyle was reported to have been involved in another incident at Strangers’ Bar the night before making the alleged remarks to Mr Dyer.
Southwark News, the local paper for his constituency, reported that he was accused of shouting “f*** you” at a Labour Party aide in an argument over Brexit.
The MP, a staunch Remainer, was said to have been angered by the aide’s claim that Brexit had not been a disaster for the UK.
When a Tory MP tried to intervene in the argument, Mr Coyle allegedly said: “F*** off and lose some weight.”
Mr Coyle has been an MP since 2015 and has a history of using abusive language.
In 2020, he waded into the row over the lyrics to Rule, Brittania! with a now-deleted tweet effectively targeted at Brexiteer Tory MPs that called them “fat, old racists” and “absolute s***bag racist w*****s”.