Commons Speaker John Bercow has described Donald Trump’s remarks to four US congresswomen as “hateful, loathsome and despicable”.
The US president has been heavily criticised after he told the Democratic politicians to “go back” to the countries from which they came.
Mr Bercow, who is chancellor of the University of Essex, used his speech at a graduation ceremony to hit out at the remarks.
“We have built our university on the idea that students and staff are members with a licence to shape, not just passively to receive, but to shape what goes on around them,” he said.
Our Chancellor the Rt Hon John Bercow MP calls on our graduates to stand up against racism and to call out intolerance of any kind. He tells #essexgraduation our commitment to internationalism @Uni_of_Essex is more important than ever at this time. pic.twitter.com/lBS9xWJIYw
— University of Essex (@Uni_of_Essex) July 19, 2019
“By exploring and questioning, by pushing boundaries, by being zestful and impatient for change, by having ideas, enjoying the freedom and displaying the courage to challenge the status quo.
“And on the subject of the status quo, I want just at this great international and internationalist university to say this, a worrying part of that status quo, I’m sorry to say, not least the other side of the pond, is a degeneration into racist abuse of opponents.
“In my judgment and, I hope also, my friends, in yours, the language of ‘go back’ is hateful, loathsome and despicable and it has to be called out.”
While Mr Trump did not name the four, he is believed to have been referring to congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib.
Only Ms Omar, from Somalia, is foreign-born.
Mr Trump had hit out at the congresswomen “who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world” and suggested “why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”.
His comments led to attacks from senior Democrats, with presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren condemning the “racist and xenophobic attack” and another 2020 contender, former Texas representative Beto O’Rourke saying “this is racist”.