The Scottish Conservatives have added pressure on the Prime Minister, telling him he needs to "carefully review" donations from a businessman at the centre of a race row.

However, Rishi Sunak shows no sign of handing back the £10m given to the party by Frank Hester.

The Prime Minister’s press secretary suggested that the chief executive of the healthcare software firm could not be a racist person because “he has been donating to the most diverse cabinet in history, led by the first non-white Prime Minister”.

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The Scottish Tory intervention came after a bruising Prime Minister's Questions for Mr Sunak, which saw him accused of putting "money before morals".

The row started on Monday, when the Guardian reported that in 2019 Mr Hester 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”.

Pushed on the remarks in the Commons, Mr Sunak said the remarks were “wrong” but that the businessman had “apologised genuinely for his comments and that remorse should be accepted”.

“There is no place for racism in Britain, and the Government I lead is living proof of that," he added.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told the Commons: “The man bankrolling the Prime Minister also said that the Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington should be shot.

“How low would he have to sink, what racist, woman-hating threat of violence would he have to make before the Prime Minister plucked up the courage to hand back the £10m that he’s taken from him?”

Mr Sunak replied: “As I said, the gentleman apologised genuinely for his comments and that remorse should be accepted.

“But he talks about language, he might want to reflect on the double standards of his deputy leader calling her opponents scum, his shadow foreign secretary comparing Conservatives to Nazis and the man that he wanted to make chancellor talking about lynching a female minister.

“His silence on that speaks volumes.”

The SNP’s Westminster leader said Mr Sunak was “putting money before morals" and said it was “complete rubbish" to suggest Mr Hester had shown remorse.

He added: “The gentleman in question apologised for being rude. He wasn't rude. He was racist. He was odious, and he was downright bloody dangerous.”

The SNP MP pointed to comments made by No 10 ahead of the UK Government's new extremism strategy. Downing Street has warned about “an unacceptable rise in extremist activity which is seeking to divide our society and hijack our democratic institutions.”

“Isn’t the extremism that we should all be worried about the views of those Tory donors that we've read about this week?” Mr Flynn asked.

“No, there has actually been a rise in extremist activity that is seeking to hijack our democratic institutions," Mr Sunak said. "It's important that we have the tools to tackle this threat. That's what the extremism strategy will do.”

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The Scottish Tory comment followed on from Scottish Labour's deputy leader, Dame Jackie Baillie, writing to Douglas Ross to say voters would be "appalled if your party used this money in the coming election given its source."

She added: “It would be helpful for you to clearly state that you will not benefit from the donation of Mr Hester.”

In response, a Scottish Tory spokesperson told The Herald: “These comments were racist and wrong.

“The Scottish Conservative Party has never accepted a donation from Frank Hester and the UK Conservative Party should carefully review the donations it has received from Hester in response to his remarks.”

The Prime Minister was already dealing with slits in his party over the issue. 

Earlier in the day, Andy Street, the Tory mayor for the West Midlands, said he thought the cash should be returned.

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

However, Kevin Hollinrake, the UK Government's Post Office minister, later suggested the Tories would take more money from Mr Hester if offered.

Ms Abbott, who now sits as an independent after having the whip removed, said Mr Hester’s comments were “frightening”.

In a statement to Good Morning Britain on ITV she said: “I live in Hackney and do not drive so I find myself, at weekends, popping on a bus or even walking places more than most MPs. I am a single woman and that makes me vulnerable anyway.

“But to hear someone talking like this is worrying. For all of my career as an MP I have thought it important not to live in a bubble, but to mix and mingle with ordinary people. The fact that two MPs have been murdered in recent years makes talk like this all the more alarming.”

She has reported the comments to the Metropolitan Police’s parliamentary liaison and investigations team.

There was outrage in the Commons yesterday when she was ignored by Sir Lindsay Hoyle. Despite attempting to ask a question during Prime Minister's Questions, she was not selected. 

Sir Lindsay's spokeswoman said it was because there was “not enough time” to call all MPs.

Speaking to LBC, Mr Flynn said he could not fathom why the Speaker had not allowed Ms Abbot "to use her own voice on a matter which is intrinsically linked to her as a person."

"It was an absurd decision," he added.

Ms Abbott, writing on X, said: “I don’t know whose interests the Speaker thinks he is serving. But it is not the interests of the Commons or democracy.”