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General election: Boris Johnson facing calls to suspend three Tory candidates over antisemitism allegations

Conservatives confirm the cases are ‘being investigated’

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Saturday 07 December 2019 17:38 GMT
‘Johnson must answer for the antisemitism being promoted in his name,’ said a Labour campaign coordinator
‘Johnson must answer for the antisemitism being promoted in his name,’ said a Labour campaign coordinator (BBC/PA Wire)

Boris Johnson is facing calls to suspend three Conservative general election candidates who are being investigated by the party over alleged antisemitism.

With just five days to go until the general election, Sally-Ann Hart, who provoked anger this week for remarks about disabled people, Lee Anderson and Richard Short are all subject to an internal probe.

Ms Hart, who is standing in the Tory marginal of Hastings and Rye, shared a video on Facebook which implies the philanthropist George Soros, a Jewish man, controls the European Union, and also “liked” a Nazi slogan.

The party’s candidate in the Labour seat of Ashfield, Mr Anderson, is an active member of the “Ashfield backs Boris” group on the same social media platform where Soros conspiracy theories have been pushed, according to The Guardian.

Mr Short, who is running for St Helens South and Whiston at the election, is also being investigated after he questioned whether a Jewish journalist was being more loyal to the UK or Israel after appearing on the BBC’s Question Time in 2013.

Labour’s co-campaign coordinator, Andrew Gwynne, said: “Johnson must answer for the antisemitism being promoted in his name.

“One Conservative candidate ‘liked’ a Nazi slogan, another candidate promotes a group named after Johnson which peddles antisemitic Soros conspiracies, and a third candidate accused British Jews of being more loyal to Israel than the UK, a classic antisemitic trope.”

He continued: “Boris Johnson said members who make racist comments are ‘out first bounce’. So why is he refusing to suspend these three candidates, none of whom appear to have apologised?”

“Johnson has never called out and condemned antisemitic Soros narratives among his supporters. On the contrary, the Conservatives whipped their MEPs to vote in support of the Hungarian government which peddles the Soros conspiracy and appointed a senior government adviser who promotes this narrative. Antisemitism is clearly rife in the Conservative Party from top to bottom.”

In a statement, the Conservatives said all three cases were the subject of an investigation, adding: “Discrimination or abuse of any kind is wrong, and the Conservative Party takes decisive action to deal with any incidents of hatred, abuse or intimidation.

“We are committed stop stamping out the scourge of antisemitism in our society and supporting our Jewish community.

“Our complaints process is rightly a confidential one, but there is a wide range of sanctions to challenge and change behaviour, including conditions to undertake training, periods of suspension and expulsion, and these are applied on a case-by-case basis.”

Earlier this week, Ms Hart, who is standing in Amber Rudd’s former constituency, was criticised after telling voters that disabled people and those with learning disabilities should be paid less because some “didn’t understand money”.

Ms Hart was heckled as she made the remarks during a huntings event after being challenged over an article she had said, which claimed “people with learning difficulties should be allowed to work for less than the minimum wage”.

The Independent has contacted all three candidates for comment.

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