A Cabinet minister has insisted there must be an “honest open debate” about child abuse after a Labour frontbencher quit following a backlash when she claimed the country had a problem with British Pakistani men raping white girls.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said racial motivation in sexual abuse cases must be addressed as he suggested Jeremy Corbyn had forced Sarah Champion to resign as shadow women and equalities secretary.

The Labour leader insisted his party would not “demonise” any particular group and said the shadow Cabinet minister had been right to go.

Ms Champion apologised for her “extremely poor choice of words” in a newspaper article but the Equality and Human Rights Commission described it as a “real shame” that she had resigned due to “over-sensitivity about language”.

The Labour MP had warned Britain has a “problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls” in a column for The Sun.

Sarah Champion
Sarah Champion has resigned from the shadow cabinet (Lewis Whyld/PA)

Mr Javid said: “Corbyn wrong to sack Sarah Champion. We need an honest open debate on child sexual exploitation, including racial motivation.”

Mr Corbyn told LBC: “I think she was right to step down. In her words, she said, her continued presence there would be a distraction.

“We cannot demonise whole communities or whole groups of people because of the actions of some people.”

Jeremy Corbyn with Sarah Champion
Jeremy Corbyn said Sarah Champion was right to stand down (Danny Lawson/PA)

Shadow justice minister Yasmin Qureshi repeatedly refused to be drawn on whether it was right that Ms Champion stepped down.

“I think you need to ask Sarah that question,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“Of course we should deal with abuse wherever it occurs and we should ask ourselves as to what we can do to ensure these things don’t happen.”

The Sun newspaper
The article featured in The Sun (Andrew Matthews/PA)

In an article for The Sun, Ms Champion wrote: “Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls.

“There. I said it. Does that make me a racist? Or am I just prepared to call out this horrifying problem for what it is?

“For too long we have ignored the race of these abusers and, worse, tried to cover it up.

“No more. These people are predators and the common denominator is their ethnic heritage.”

More than 100 MPs and peers, including Ms Champion, later complained about “Nazi-like” language in The Sun following a comment piece by Trevor Kavanagh in which he asked what could be done about “the Muslim Problem”.