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Tory MP Lee Anderson accused of racism and Islamophobia after Sadiq Khan rant on GB News

Rishi Sunak is under pressure to withdraw the whip after the Tory MP claimed ‘Islamists have control’ of the London mayor

Holly Evans
Saturday 24 February 2024 01:24 GMT
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Lee Anderson refuses to apologise for controversial comments about asylum seekers

Conservative MP Lee Anderson has been accused of racism and Islamophobia after claiming that “Islamists have control” of London’s mayor Sadiq Khan.

Speaking on GB News, the Tory MP for Ashfield said that Mr Khan had “given our capital city away to his mates”.

In a rant on Friday evening, he said: “I don’t actually believe that these 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. Again, this stems with Khan, he’s actually given our capital city away to his mates.

“If you let Labour in through the back door, expect more of this and expect our cities to be taken over by these lunatics.”

Anderson accused Sadiq Khan of giving ‘our capital city away to his mates’ (PA Wire)

Mr Khan, who has been in his position since May 2016, is London’s first Muslim mayor.

Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, said Mr Anderson’s comments were “divisive and dangerous”.

Mr Streeting said on X: “The Conservatives have gone beyond the dogwhistle playbook of previous mayoral elections to outright racism and Islamophobia. Enough is enough. Is this really what your Party stands for @RishiSunak @RicHolden?”

Mr Anderson is even facing criticism from his own party, with Sajid Javid tweeting: “A ridiculous thing to say” in response to a clip of the programme.

And former Tory MP and Theresa May’s former chief of staff Gavin Barwell added: “A despicable slur on @SadiqKhan and Londoners.

“In his first speech as PM, @RishiSunak said he would “unite our country”. If he allows the likes of Anderson to spread hate and division like this, those words will be revealed as a sham.”

The Liberal Democrat’s mayoral candidate Rob Backie called for him to lose the Tory whip, and accused Mr Anderson of “spreading dangerous conspiracy theories”.

Tan Dhesi, the shadow exports minister, said: “Given the recent spike in Islamophobia and antisemitism, and the febrile atmosphere in our country, it’s deplorable that an elected MP can openly make such incendiary and divisive statements; especially against Sadiq Khan, who has done so much to foster community cohesion and tackle hate crime.”

Mr Anderson was deputy chair of the Conservative party until January, when he resigned over the vote on the government’s Rwanda deportation policy.

In response to his comments, a Tory source said: “Lee was simply making the point that the mayor, in his capacity as PCC [police crime commissioner] for London, has abjectly failed to get a grip on the appalling examples of extremism we have seen in London recently.”

Also adding to the criticism, Labour’s shadow women and equalities secretary Anneliese Dodds said: “Lee Anderson’s comments are unambiguously racist and Islamophobic.

“Rishi Sunak needs to immediately remove the whip. If he is too weak, then people will take their own view of the modern Conservative Party.”

Labour Brent Central MP Dawn Butler added: “This divisive rubbish is straight from the right wing racist rule book. Inciting racial hatred is a criminal offence. @RishiSunak there’s been an 335% increase in Islamaphobia why is your party encouraging hate & lies? Islamophobia encouraged by Tories.”

A London Labour source told The Independent: “This sort of vile Islamophobia is exactly how the Tories campaigned against Sadiq Khan in 2016. Surely they will not tolerate it this time round?”

In the same GB News appearance with political reporter Chris Hope, Mr Anderson engaged in a heated debate over police intervention on pro-Palestinian protesters.

“Ultimately we run the country, and if the police aren’t doing their job – and they’re not doing their job … we need to step in and take over,” he said.

Mr Anderson, Mr Khan and the Conservative Party have been contacted for comment.

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