Lee Anderson refuses to apologize for Islamist claims about Sadiq Khan

  • By Kate Vannell
  • Political Correspondent, BBC News

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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.

Frustration with the London mayor's record led to Anderson's suspension as a Tory MP.

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.”

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.

In a statement released via GB News – which uses the MP as a broadcaster – Mr Anderson said: “You should never apologize when you think you're 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.”

In an interview with the channel, Mr Anderson later said he felt the Conservative Party “could have given me a bit more support”.

He argued that pro-Palestinian demonstrations outside parliament and threats to MPs had caused Mr Khan to “lose control of the city”.

He insisted his comments were “not racist” and said he would not apologize to Mr Khan “as long as I have breath in my body”.

Pressed on whether he would join the right-wing Reform UK Party, the former Labor councilor declined to comment but said he was “on a political trip”.

Asked if he would stand as a Tory candidate at the next election, Mr Anderson said: “It's not up to me… but I will stand at the next election.”

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.

“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.”

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Sadiq Khan said Lee Anderson's comments should be called Islamophobia

Conservative MP Rehman Chishti, who is Muslim, called on the prime minister to appoint an independent adviser on Islamophobia, which is vacant from June 2022.

He told the BBC that Mr Sunak had “failed to engage” with him on dealing with Islamophobia and that he had “genuine concerns about the Prime Minister's judgment on these matters”.

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”. to be 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.”

“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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