Lee Anderson’s comments against Sadiq Khan ‘weren’t acceptable, they were wrong’, says Rishi Sunak | Politics News

The prime minister denies the Conservative Party has “Islamophobic tendencies” in his first assertion addressing Mr Anderson’s assault on the London mayor.

By Alexandra Rogers, Political reporter @Journoamrogers

Rishi Sunak has damaged his silence to sentence Lee Anderson’s assault on Sadiq Khan as unacceptable and “wrong”.

Mr Anderson, the Conservative MP for Ashfield and former deputy social gathering chair, was suspended on the weekend after he refused to apologise for claiming “Islamists” had bought “control” over London and that Mr Khan had “given our capital city away to his mates”.

Speaking on BBC Radio York, the prime minister denied the Tory social gathering has “Islamophobic tendencies” and mentioned: “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.”

Asked about Mr Anderson particularly, Mr Sunak mentioned: “Lee’s comments weren’t acceptable, they were wrong. That’s why he’s had the whip suspended.”

He added: “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.”

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Mr Sunak’s assertion to native radio was the primary time he has instantly addressed the comments made by Mr Anderson, who advised GB News final week: “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.”

His comments sparked condemnation from throughout the political divide, together with from Tory peer Baroness Warsi who mentioned she was “really disturbed by where the Conservative Party has gone” and that “anti-Muslim racism is being used as an electoral campaign tool”.

‘Anti-Muslim racism getting used as an electoral marketing campaign software’

However, a cupboard minister this morning appeared to go away the door open to Mr Anderson regaining the Tory whip, which permits him to take a seat as a Conservative MP within the Commons.

Asked what Mr Anderson wanted to say to be welcomed again, Transport Secretary Mark Harper advised Kay Burley on Sky News that he ought to “reflect on what he said” and “retract those comments and apologise”.

“I’m not going to tell the chief whip how to do his job, that’s for him,” he mentioned.

“He’s contributed a lot in the past. I’d like to see him be able to contribute to the Conservative Party in the future.”

While quite a lot of senior Tories have criticised Mr Anderson for his comments, Mr Harper was the second cupboard minister to refuse to say whether or not the remarks were “racist”.

Yesterday, Mr Dowden backed the choice to droop the Ashfield MP however refused to say whether or not he was racist.

Rishi Sunk has tried to attract a line underneath Lee Anderson – however the row might run on

Tamara Cohen

Political correspondent


Rishi Sunak this morning tried to shut down a row over suspended Tory MP Lee Anderson, describing his comments as “wrong” and saying MPs should not “inflame our debates in a way that’s harmful to others”.

Mr Anderson – the customarily controversial MP, who was a shock choose because the social gathering’s deputy chairman final yr – claimed on GB News final week that “Islamists” had “got control” of Labour mayor Sadiq Khan.

The prime minister as we speak went additional than his deputy, Oliver Dowden, over the weekend – however wouldn’t say whether or not he thought the remarks were racist, as Mr Khan himself and a few Tories have.

It’s an try to attract a line underneath the row, permitting his colleagues to say Mr Sunak acted “decisively”.

But there are a number of causes this might run and run.

One is that Mr Sunak has touched on one in all his social gathering’s fault traces, with some 2019 MPs defending Mr Anderson of their WhatsApp teams – though different senior figures are horrified.

Mr Anderson himself, who might have averted suspension by apologising, might stoke it additional – he’s already tweeting about folks’s assist for him, and has a TV platform to make additional noise.

Mr Sunak has been making an attempt in current days to make a degree about protests which can be “hijacked by extremists” who he says are undermining democracy by intimidation.

Tory sources admit Mr Anderson’s comments are significantly unhelpful on this context. With one other vote on Gaza on the playing cards, tensions shall be operating excessive on all sides.

And this morning, Mr Harper additionally repeatedly declined to say whether or not Mr Anderson’s remarks were racist however mentioned they were “untrue” and “wrong”.

“Well it was flawed, and I’m not going to get into arguing concerning the rights and wrongs of what he mentioned.

“Wrong is a really sturdy phrase in my guide.”

Mr Harper additionally rejected the assertion made by Baroness Warsi yesterday that there’s a hierarchy of racism throughout the social gathering and that anti-Muslim racism is getting used as an electoral marketing campaign software.

“I do not agree with that,” he said. “And the truth that we took such sturdy motion so shortly against what Lee Anderson mentioned, I believe, slightly exhibits precisely why she’s flawed.”

Mr Harper’s phrases come as WhatsApp messages leaked to Sky News reveal some Tory MPs regard Mr Anderson’s suspension as a mistake.

The WhatsApp discussion board is known as the “109 group” of Tory MPs elected in 2019.

Read extra:
Lee Anderson row blunts Rishi Sunak’s ethical authority on racism
MPs set to debate Gaza ceasefire once more after Commons chaos

Julie Marson, the MP for Hertford and Stortford, shared a information story displaying Nigel Farage calling on “cancelled” Mr Anderson to join the rivals Reform party and “destroy” the Tories.

Jill Mortimer, the Conservative MP for Hartlepool, shared messages from constituents saying they wouldn’t vote Tory once more and that “Lee Anderson’s suspension is the ultimate nail within the social gathering’s coffin”.

On Sunday night Mr Anderson tweeted an image of a pint of beer from a London pub with the caption: “So I’ve simply arrived in London and resulting from all of the constructive comments earlier I’ve determined to have one other pint to get me prepared for an extended week.”

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