ALISON Thewliss has hit back at a Tory minister after she suggested the SNP MP was “inflaming racial tensions”.

Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch accused Thewliss of “conflating” different issues linked to racism to “get traction in the press”.

The comments came during a House of Commons session in which the Tory MP was asked to scrap the UK Government’s no recourse to public funds (NRPF) policy amid concerns it was endangering people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (Bame) backgrounds.

Public Health England figures show people from Bame groups are at a higher risk of dying from Covid-19 than people in white ethnic groups. But Thewliss warned Tory immigration rules which deny people access to public funds were exposing Bame workers to potential risk of infection.

READ MORE: Greens urge Scottish Government to publish BAME Covid-19 statistics

The SNP MP said: “It’s one thing to say black lives matter and quite another to force people black people, and people from Bame backgrounds, out to work because they have no choice other than to go to work because they have no recourse to public funds.

“No recourse to public funds is a racist policy – will she abolish it now?”

Badenoch said she wanted to “push back” on Thewliss’s comments. “It is wrong to conflate all black people with recent immigrants and assume, which is what she has just said, that we all have to pay a surcharge – that it wrong,” she said.

The Tory minister then claimed the UK Government was protecting MPs despite fears that the decision to scrap virtual voting was putting members at risk. Yesterday, Business Secretary Alok Sharma was visibly unwell in the chambers and has since been tested for Covid-19. There were also concerns that logjams in the queuing system made it impossible to maintain social distancing.

READ MORE: Tories face furious backlash over Commons farce after minister falls ill

Badenoch continued: “I’m a black woman who is out to work. My employers … this House has done everything it can to ensure I am following the guidelines, and making sure that all of us are.

“So it is absolutely wrong to try and conflate lots of different issues and merge them into one just so we can get traction in the press.”

To howls of derision, she added: “We must need courage to say the right things … in order to calm down racial tensions and not inflame them just so we can have something to put on social media.”

See the full exchange below.

Thewliss was evidently gob-smacked by the comments, but did not have a chance to reply in the Commons.

Responding later on Twitter, she suggested the Tory minister did not seem to understand her own government’s policy.

“I'm not sure the Minister understands NRPF – those who have this *are* out to work,” the SNP MP posted. “The UK Government has deliberately chosen to deny a group of people – migrants – access to some benefits which would support them. It is discriminatory by it's very nature.”