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UK politician slammed after referring to Kamala Harris as 'the Indian'

Lord Kilclooney said he did not know her name and identified the U.S. vice president-elect by her ethnicity.
Image: Vice President-elect Kamala Harris delivers remarks in Wilmington, Del.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris delivers remarks in Wilmington, Del., on Nov. 7, 2020.Angela Weiss / AFP - Getty Images

A member of the Northern Ireland Assembly received heavy criticism on Monday for referring to U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as “the Indian” on Twitter.

In his since-deleted tweet on Monday, Lord Kilclooney, a member of the House of Lords, said: “What happens if Biden moves on and the Indian becomes President. Who then becomes Vice President?”

Lord Kilclooney in 2009.Ian Nicholson / Press Association via AP Images file

On Saturday, Harris made history as the first woman, first Black American, and first Black South Asian American vice president-elect in U.S. history.

Lord Fowler, lord speaker of the House of Lords, demanded that Kilclooney apologize.

“Lord Kilclooney should retract and apologize,” he said on Twitter on Monday. “This is an offensive way to refer to anyone, let alone a woman who has just made history."

“The comment is entirely unacceptable and has no place in British politics. I could not be clearer,” he said.

Kilclooney has not apologized for his statement and denied it was racist on Twitter on Monday.

“Harris is rightly proud of her Indian background I certainly withdraw my reference to her as an Indian as it seems to have upset some people,” he tweeted. “I did not know her name and identified her with the term Indian.”

This isn’t the first time the Irish lawmaker received backlash for identifying politicians of color solely by their ethnicity.

In 2018, Kilclooney drew ire from British lawmakers after he called Leo Varadkar, then the prime minister and head of government of Ireland, a “typical Indian,” BBC reported. Varadkar, of Indian and Irish descent, is currently the deputy head of Ireland.

Wes Streeting, British Member of Parliament for Ilford North, echoed Fowler’s comments on Twitter on Monday.

“This sort of racism would be unacceptable from anyone, but from a member of the House of Lords it beggars belief,” Streeting tweeted. “Action must be taken.”