Labour's shadow Europe minister has vowed to never return to the Derbyshire village of Sawley after she was confronted by a "horrible racist". The incident reportedly took place as North West Durham MP Pat Glass was in the East Midlands to campaign for a 'remain' vote ahead of the EU referendum on 23 June.

"The very first person I come to is a horrible racist. I'm never coming back to wherever this is," she told BBC Radio Derby. The voter apparently denied being racist, but said he was concerned about his Polish neighbours being welfare "scroungers".

Glass, who controversially replaced Pat McFadden as shadow Europe minister in January, also suggested immigration levels to the UK would not change if the British electorate backed a 'Leave' vote.

"This is the single most important decision we are going to make in a generation. It's going to affect their children and grandchildren," she said.

"They need to make that decision on something that will change, not something that won't. Even if we leave the EU – whether we stay or whether we leave – we have to have a deal with Europe and it will include free movement of people."

Glass later issued an apology for the comments, which she described as "inappropriate". The pro-EU campaigner added: "Concerns about immigration are entirely valid and it's important that politicians engage with them. I apologise to the people living in Sawley for any offence I have caused."

But Brexit campaigners seized on the remarks and compared it to Gordon Brown's Gillian Duffy gaffe during the 2010 general election campaign. The then Labour prime minister was caught on microphone branding the 65-year-old voter a "bigoted women" for raising concerns about immigration and its effect on Rochdale.

Brown later returned to the Greater Manchester town to make a personal apology to Duffy, but the political damage was already done as the Labour leader looked out of touch with the party's traditional working-class voters.