The Conservatives would take more money from a donor who made “racist and wrong” comments about a black politician, a UK government minister has said.

Frank Hester, who has given £10m to the party, is alleged to have said Diane Abbott, Britain’s longest-serving black MP, made him “want to hate all black women” and that she “should be shot”.

No 10 eventually condemned the remarks last night, but on Wednesday morning, Post Office minister Kevin Hollinrake said returning the cash, as Labour has demanded, would not be the “right thing to do.”

READ MORE: Biggest Conservative donor accused of racist Diane Abbot comments

Asked whether he would be comfortable spending Mr Hester’s donations, Mr Hollinrake told Sky News: “On the basis he is not a racist, has apologised for what he said, yes.”

When asked by BBC Breakfast if the party would take more money from the businessman, the minister said: “As I now understand the situation, yes.”

He also said he thinks there are “bigger issues at play here that we need to focus on, in terms of probably greater priorities” for the Government and that “we should try and move on from this now”.

“I don’t believe Mr Hester is a racist person,” Mr Hollinrake said.

“What he has said here, in a private conversation half a decade ago, he has apologised for. I don’t think we need to spend too much time on that given he has made that apology.”

However, Andy Street, the Tory mayor for the West Midlands, said he would return the cash.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I would think about the company I kept and I would give that money back.”

READ  MORE: Lee Anderson defects to Nigel Farage backed Reform UK

After ministers and Downing Street refused to describe Mr Hester’s comments as racist for most of Tuesday, the Prime Minister’s spokesman finally labelled them as such in the evening.

Mr Hollinrake defended No 10’s delay and argued that “we have the most diverse Cabinet in history”.

Asked about criticisms that Mr Sunak had failed to set the agenda over the racism row, Mr Hollinrake said: “If you don’t mind me saying, I think you are setting the agenda in terms of all the interpretation and speculation you are making about various different things that happened yesterday.

“No 10 has been very clear that these comments were wrong, were racist.”

In a statement after 6pm on Tuesday, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “The comments allegedly made by Frank Hester were racist and wrong. He has now rightly apologised for the offence caused and, where remorse is shown, it should be accepted.

“The Prime Minister is clear there is no place for racism in public life and, as the first British-Asian Prime Minister leading one of the most ethnically diverse Cabinets in our history, the UK is living proof of that fact.”

The row intensified on Tuesday night after the Guardian reported on further comments allegedly made by Mr Hester.

According to the paper, Mr Hester, the chief executive of healthcare software firm The Phoenix Partnership (TPP), allegedly referred to “no room for the Indians” during a crowded meeting, and suggested they “climb on the roof, like on the roof of the train there”.

He has admitted making “rude” comments about Ms Abbott, but claimed they had “nothing to do with her gender nor colour of skin”.

Ms Abbott herself said the reported comments were “frightening” and “alarming” given that two MPs – Jo Cox and Sir David Amess – have been murdered in recent years.