Andrea Leadsom has come under fire for pointing an MP who raised the issue of Islamophobia in the Commons in the direction of the Foreign Office.
Labour frontbencher Naz Shah asked Mrs Leadsom for a definition of Islamophobia and whether she agreed with her that there should be a debate in the Commons on the issue.
But the Leader of the House sparked anger when she appeared to direct Ms Shah towards the Foreign Office for help with a solution.
A spokesman for the Leader’s Office has since said Mrs Leadsom thought Ms Shah was referring to an international definition of Islamophobia.
Speaking in the Commons on Thursday: “The Leader of the House may be aware that the all party parliamentary group on British Muslims recently came together and published a definition on Islamophobia.
“Given the crisis that the opposite party find themselves in would she agree with me that it is right that we should have a debate in the house on islamophobia.”
Mrs Leadsom replied: “The Conservative party is taking very strong action in any cases of Islamophobia that we identify.
“We have been extremely robust and urgent in our response to this.”
She continued: “She raises a very important point about whether we should seek a definition on islamophobia. I would encourage her to perhaps seek an adjournment debate in the first instance so she can discuss with Foreign Office ministers whether that would be a useful way forward.”
Ms Shah described Mr Leadsom’s comments in the Commons as “baffling”.
“I was shocked by what Andrea Leadsom said in response to my genuine call for a debate on Islamophobia,” she said.
“To say that British Muslims facing Islamophobia here in the UK is a ‘Foreign Office’ issue is truly baffling and horrifically alludes to British Muslims as foreigners.”
Lady Warsi said “British Muslims are … British” and suggested to Ms Leadsom the Conservatives were “in a hole” and should “stop digging”.
A Commons Leader’s Office spokesman said: “Islamophobia is unacceptable wherever it takes place.
“It was thought the MP for Bradford West was referring to a global definition of Islamophobia. International efforts to combat Islamophobia (and all forms of religious persecution and prejudice) are lead by the PM’s special envoy on freedom of religion or belief, Lord Ahmad, at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
“Of course, any form of Islamophobia in the UK would be dealt with swiftly by the Home Office or Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government as appropriate.”
The comments came after Amber Rudd had to apologise for describing Labour’s Diane Abbott as “coloured”.
While Karen Bradley, the Northern Ireland secretary, was forced to say sorry for her comments on the Troubles.
She recently said deaths caused by police and soldiers during the time were “not crimes” and has faced calls to resign in the aftermath.