By Alex Stevenson
The upcoming equality bill will make the British National party's (BNP) membership criteria illegal, Harriet Harman has confirmed.
Speaking during business questions opposite Alan Duncan, Ms Harman responded to concerns about the election of two BNP MEPs last week in the European elections.
Ms Harman said she was "shocked and horrified" by their success but went on to say its constitution - which bars non-whites from membership - would become illegal once the equality bill was passed.
"There is no place for a political party in this country to have an apartheid constitution and the equality bill will prevent this from being the case," she said.
Andrew Brons and party leader Nick Griffin were elected as MEPs for the Yorkshire and the Humber and north-west regions with 9.8 per cent and eight per cent respectively in European elections held last week.
Later in the session a Conservative MP suggested to Ms Harman the reason voters in these two "great regions" had turned to the BNP was because of widespread frustration with mainstream parties' ability to deal with the issues of the day.
Ms Harman said that "throughout history" when there had been fear for people's jobs and standards of living "that always provides opportunities for stirring up of apprehension and fear by far-right parties".
She added: "There is no place in British national life and democracy for a party that excludes people on the basis of the colour of their skin".
Ms Harman has a strong record on equality issues and is currently minister for women, beyond her roles as deputy Labour leader and leader of the House.
The equality bill consolidates all the UK's disparate equality laws into one piece of legislation, including laws related to the provision of goods and services, although it is unclear if it will be these sections which affect the party.
A BNP spokesman told politics.co.uk that the move showed "a certain level of desperation" on the part of the government.
"They've never taken this approach to us before. Now we've won they're suddenly talking about changing the voting system and now taking some sort of legal course with our constitution," John Walker said.
"This government have the audacity after their shambolic showing with the poll results that their parties received. to try and change the voting system when they have no mandate from the British people whatsoever."
He suggested the party may put forward some legal arguments to combat the government's proposals and added: "These people would obviously by their actions like to see us shut down."
In June 4th's European elections, won by the Conservatives, Labour came third overall with 15.7 per cent of the overall vote. The BNP were sixth with 6.2 per cent.