Labour calls for Liz Truss and Lee Anderson to lose Conservative whip | Conservatives

Labour calls for Liz Truss and Lee Anderson to lose Conservative whip | Conservatives

Liz Truss and Lee Anderson should both lose the Conservative whip over controversial media appearances that have caused unrest and anger within Tory ranks, campaigners and opposition politicians have said.

In a letter to the prime minister, Rishi Sunak, on Friday, Labour’s shadow paymaster general, Jonathan Ashworth, said “egregious” remarks made by the pair “cannot go unchecked or unchallenged”.

It comes after Anderson, the former Tory deputy chair, suggested in a Friday night appearance on GB News that the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, had “given our capital away” to “Islamists”. It is a common far-right trope that Khan is close to radical Islam. Conservative figures have sought to make the false link in the past.

Islamists control Sadiq Khan, claims Tory MP Lee Anderson – video

The former Conservative chancellor Sajid Javid was among those who criticised Anderson’s comments, calling it a “ridiculous thing to say”. The defence secretary, Grant Shapps, also distanced himself from the comments amid calls from the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) for Anderson to be kicked out of the parliamentary party.

The MCB said the comment was “disgusting” and criticised the “silence of the party in the face of such extremism”. A spokesperson added: “In a week where we learn of an explosion in Islamophobic hate crimes, influential MPs and a donor to the Conservative party are endorsing common talking points that peddle conspiracy theories and Islamophobic tropes of alleged Muslim takeovers of our country.”

Truss, meanwhile, had used a talk at the Conservative Political Action Conference (Cpac) in the US to claim her efforts to cut taxes were “sabotaged” by the “administrative state and the deep state”.

The former prime minister later took part in an interview with the former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon and remained silent as he hailed the far-right figure Tommy Robinson a “hero”.

Javid slammed her for not challenging the comment, saying: “I’d hope every MP would confront such a statement head on. Liz should really know better.”

‘Not how I would put it’: Grant Shapps on Tory MP’s claim ‘Islamists’ control Sadiq Khan – video

Asked about Anderson’s comments on Saturday, Shapps said: “It’s certainly not the way I would put things.” He told BBC Breakfast: “I think there are more concerns about the way that some of these [pro-Palestinian] protests have been taking place. In particular, what we saw projected on to parliament this week, but I certainly wouldn’t phrase things like that.”

The phrase “from the river to the sea” was reportedly beamed on to the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday as protesters gathered in Westminster to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Asked whether Anderson should lose the Tory whip, Shapps said the matter was “one for party itself”. The defence secretary declined to say whether the MP for Ashfield is a good representative voice for the Conservative party, saying only that “we live in a democracy where people are allowed to speak their mind and Lee Anderson, I think, is famed for speaking his mind”.

The Conservative peer Gavin Barwell, who was Theresa May’s chief of staff in No 10, described the comment as a “despicable slur”.

Sunak is being pressed by Labour to “show some leadership” and take action over both sets of remarks.

Ashworth said that a failure to do so would amount to “allowing the divisive, deluded and dangerous views of the far right into mainstream British politics and continue to give credibility to such a degradation of British institutions and cultural life on the international stage”.

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Truss had claimed in her speech that Conservatives were “now operating in what is a hostile environment” and that “leftwing elites” would be “aided and abetted by our enemies in China, Iran and Russia”.

When interviewed by Bannon after her speech, Truss also said she was willing to work to change the Conservative party with Nigel Farage, the Reform UK founder and former Ukip leader.

She suggested that Bannon, who faces fraud charges in New York, could “come over to Britain and sort out Britain”.

In his letter to Sunak, Ashworth wrote: “For a senior politician to engage in spreading such blatant conspiracy theories is incredibly damaging to our democracy, our institutions and social cohesion.”

He added: “For a former prime minister to make such remarks, while on an international visit to a country with whom the UK shares a special relationship which upholds liberal values, is an unforgivable lowering of the office of prime minister, which lessens the United Kingdom’s standing in the world and needs to be acted upon.

“It’s time to show some leadership and take on the extremists in your party. Liz Truss and Lee Anderson must no longer sit as Conservative MPs. Their words cannot go unchecked or unchallenged.”

Downing Street has been contacted for comment.

A Conservative party source said: “Lee was simply making the point that the mayor, in his capacity as PCC (police and crime commissioner) for London, has abjectly failed to get a grip on the appalling Islamist marches we have seen in London recently.”

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