Labour's Helen Goodman says sorry for barb over Jeremy Hunt's Chinese wife


A Labour MP has issued a grovelling apology after making an ill-judged jibe at Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt's Chinese wife.

Helen Goodman posted the barb on Twitter in an apparent response to the Tory minister's suggestion that tax credit cuts could encourage Britons to work as hard as people in fast-growing Asian economies.

"If China is so great, why did Jeremy Hunt's wife come to England?" the Bishop Auckland MP wrote.

The comment swiftly drew cross-party condemnation, with many pointing out that it flew in the face of Jeremy Corbyn's promise of a "kinder" political debate.

Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi replied: "Helen that is a terrible thing to say. I hope you delete and apologise to Mrs Hunt. Have you been hacked?"

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: "Terrible tweet from Helen Goodman. Never attack politicians' families. I hope she apologises. Clearly she missed the 'Kinder Politics' memo."

A Labour Party spokeswoman said: "Helen will be reminded of her responsibilities as an elected Labour politician."

Shortly afterwards Ms Goodman deleted the tweet and posted: "Wish to absolutely totally apologise for earlier tweet."

Speaking at a fringe event at the Tory party conference last week, Mr Hunt said the welfare changes would strengthen the nation's work ethic.

"My wife is Chinese, and if we want this to be one of the most successful countries in the world in 20, 30, 40 years' time there's a pretty difficult question that we have to answer which is essentially: are we going to be a country that is prepared to work hard in the way that Asian economies are prepared to work hard, in the way that Americans are prepared to work hard?" he said.

"And that is about creating culture where work is at the heart of our success."

It is not the first time Ms Goodman has landed herself in controversy.

During the recent leadership campaign the MP was accused of cruelly highlighting Liz Kendall's lack of children by suggesting she was backing Yvette Cooper because she was a working mother.

And last year Ms Goodman memorably dropped a clanger while opening a local village fair.

Delivering a gushing speech in Ingleton, County Durham, on the edge of her constituency, she hailed its famous waterfalls and deep caves.

But it was quickly pointed out that she was confusing it with another village of the same name some 70 miles away.