Lee Anderson refuses to apologize for Islamist claims about Sadiq Khan

  • By Kate Vannell
  • Political Correspondent, BBC News

image caption,

Former miner Lee Anderson joins the Conservative Party after previously working for a Labor MP

Former Tory deputy leader Lee Anderson said his words were clumsy, but refused to apologize for saying Sadiq Khan was controlled by Islamists.

Mr Anderson was suspended as a Tory MP following his comments, which he says stemmed from frustration with the London mayor's record.

Rishi Sunak said the Ashfield MP's comments were wrong, but stopped short of saying if he thought they were Islamophobic.

Sir Keir Starmer said the Prime Minister lacked the “spine” to call out Islamophobia.

The Labor leader told reporters: “It's very basic. Islamophobia is something every political leader needs to call out and the Prime Minister doesn't say it because he's so weak.”

“It shouldn't be difficult to call out vague, unbiased and racist views. But people at the top of Conservative government stubbornly refuse to do so.”

The uproar was sparked by comments Mr Anderson made during a GB news debate on Friday afternoon.

Mr Anderson said: “I don't really believe the Islamists have taken control of our country, but what I do believe is that they've got control of Khan, and they've got control of London, and they've got control. Starmer too.”

He then added: “People are coming in thousands, doing whatever they want, and they are laughing at our police. It has to do with Khan, he has really left our capital to his comrades.”

Mr Anderson had replied A daily newspaper article Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, in which she said: “The reality is that Islamists, extremists and anti-Semites are now in charge.”

Ms Braverman said Islamists had “bullied the Labor Party” over its stance on the war in Gaza and that some of the pro-Palestinian marchers had links to Islamists.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Mr Sunak said Mr Anderson's words were “unacceptable, wrong and that's why the whip was suspended”.

He said parliamentarians had a “duty” not to provoke debate “to the detriment of others”.

The Prime Minister also denied that there were any Islamophobic tendencies in his party.

Asked whether an apology for Anderson's comments would allow him to be reinstated in the party, Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “I'm not going to speculate on future decisions that the leadership whip might make…that would be a good start. An apology would require Lee to think about what he said, do what he was asked to do and retract those comments.” It is also to ask.

“Whether he does that is entirely up to him and we can judge accordingly.”

In a statement released via GB News – which uses the MP as a broadcaster – Mr Anderson said he would not be apologizing.

“You should never apologize when you think you are right, because doing so is a sign of weakness.

“My words may have been clumsy, but my words were full of frustration at what is happening to our beautiful capital city.”

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper told Mr Sunak to “clarify”. [Lee Anderson] We will not be allowed back into the Conservative Party.

'hate'

Labor leader Anneliese Dodds has urged the Conservatives to accept a definition of Islamophobia. has been drawn By the All Party Parliamentary Committee on British Muslims.

However, the Conservatives wanted to use the term “anti-Muslim hatred” instead, Business Secretary Kemi Patenock said, adding that the Labour-backed definition would create “a blasphemy law through the back door”.

Baroness Warsi said, “As you well know, a definition like the International Holocaust Remembrance Coalition's definition of anti-Semitism is a non-legally binding operational definition, not a 'law'.”

He added that “the government has dragged down any work to tackle this kind of racism”.

In 2019, the Conservative Party launched an inquiry into how it handles claims of discrimination following allegations of Islamophobic behaviour.

The report found evidence of anti-Muslim sentiment at the local federation and individual level, but said claims of “institutional racism” were not substantiated by the evidence.

'No Go Areas'

Asked about Mr Anderson's comments on BBC Radio London, Conservative MP and former London minister Paul Scully said some places such as Tower Hamlets in London and Sparkle in Birmingham had become “no-go areas”. Addressed”.

He said: “Lee tends to shoot from the hip. He sometimes goes too far. It was a case of him going too far.”

Birmingham Labor MP Jess Phillips urged Mr Scully to apologize for his comments about Sparkle, which he labeled “totally impulsive”.

Conservative West Midlands mayor Andy Street said: “The idea that there is a 'no-go' zone in Birmingham is news to me, and I doubt the good people of Sparkill. It's time for people in Westminster to stop the nonsense and experience. Real world.”

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said Mr Sunak disagreed with Mr Scully's comments: “The Prime Minister has spoken before about the value of different communities and societies in England.”

Defending his comments in an interview with BBC London, Mr Scully said he was referring to a “feeling”.

“There are areas where a small minority of people have difficulty mistaking their own doctrine because they are not in their religion, in their culture,” he said.

Mr Scully added: “If I have misspoken or caused offense, I apologise.”

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