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Lee Anderson: Rishi Sunak denies Tories have Islamophobia problem after MP suspended


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Lee Anderson: Rishi Sunak denies Tories have Islamophobia problem after MP suspended

Prime minister says Lee Anderson’s comments ‘weren’t acceptable’ after the former Tory deputy chairman claimed London was ‘controlled by Islamists’

MEE staff

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Conservative Party Deputy Chairman, Lee Anderson, in Sutton-in-Ashfield, central England, 4 January (AFP/Jacob King)

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has denied the Conservatives have an Islamophobia problem, after one of the ruling party’s MPs was suspended last week over offensive remarks. 

Lee Anderson, former deputy chairman of the party, was suspended by the Tories after stating that London mayor Sadiq Khan, who is a Muslim, had given away “control” of the capital to “Islamists”. 

Speaking on Monday to the BBC, Sunak said: “I think it’s incumbent on all of us, especially those elected to parliament, not to inflame our debates in a way that’s harmful to others.”

“Lee’s comments weren’t acceptable, they were wrong. That’s why he’s had the whip suspended.

“Words matter, especially in the current environment where tensions are running high. I think it’s incumbent on all of us to choose them carefully.”

However, he denied that his party had “Islamophobic tendencies”. 

Anderson was suspended last week after telling broadcaster GB News: “I don’t actually believe that the Islamists have got control of our country, but what I do believe is they’ve got control of Khan and they’ve got control of London… He’s actually given our capital city away to his mates.”

UK: Suella Braverman says ‘Islamists’ now in control of Britain

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The remarks were widely condemned by politicians and commentators, including Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a Tory member of the House of Lords. 

Transport Secretary Mark Harper told Sky News that Anderson should “retract those comments and apologise”, but did not rule out his fellow parliamentarian returning to the Conservatives. 

Sky News revealed that leaked messages from a WhatsApp group show that several Tory lawmakers disagreed with Anderson’s suspension. 

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) welcomed Anderson’s suspension, and called on the Conservative party to probe “structural Islamophobia” within its ranks. 

In 2020, the MBC put together a dossier of examples of Islamophobia from 300 individuals associated with the Conservatives.

A survey conducted this month by polling company Savanta showed that 29 percent of people in Britain believed the Conservatives had a problem with Islamophobia – the most of any major UK political party.

Last week, former Home Secretary Suella Braverman sparked further outrage after claiming that “Islamists” were now in control of the UK.

‘The truth is that the Islamists, the extremists, and the antisemites are in charge now’

Suella Braverman, former Home Secretary

Writing in the Telegraph, Braverman claimed that politicians were “burying their heads in the sand” over the spread of “extremism” throughout the country’s institutions.

She specifically referenced pro-Palestine demonstrations as proof, as well as claiming that university campuses were not safe for Jewish people.

“The truth is that the Islamists, the extremists, and the antisemites are in charge now,” she wrote.

“They have bullied the Labour Party, they have bullied our institutions, and now they have bullied our country into submission.”

Sunak denies Conservatives have Islamophobia problem after MP suspended

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