Sunak Condemns Lee Anderson’s Remarks, Rejects Allegations of ‘Islamophobic Tendencies’ within Conservative Party

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London (Parliament Politic Magazine) – Sunak condemns Anderson’s remarks as ‘wrong’ but denies Conservative Party’s ‘Islamophobic tendencies’; Anderson suspended; transport secretary seeks apology.

Finally, Rishi Sunak has expressed offensive comments by former deputy chairman Lee Anderson are ‘wrong’ but has denied the Conservative party has “Islamophobic tendencies.” Mr. Anderson has encountered fierce backlash after he said ‘Islamists’ had control of London Mayor Sadiq Khan and was discontinued by the party over the weekend.

When questioned if the party has a problem with Islamophobia on Monday morning, the prime minister told the BBC: “Of course it doesn’t.”

He contended: “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. Lee’s comments weren’t acceptable. They were wrong, and that’s why he’s had the whip suspended.”

Moreover, The transport secretary, Mark Harper, has also left the door open for a likely return to the party for Mr. Anderson. Questioned what he needs to say to be welcomed back, the cabinet minister briefed Sky News: “I hope he will reflect on what he said and retract those comments and apologize… “But I’m not going to tell the chief whip how to do his job; that’s for him.”

Mr. Harper continued: “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.”

The former deputy chairman’s comments have acquired condemnation from several senior Conservatives. Sir Robert Buckland, former justice secretary, called Mr. Anderson’s remarks “repugnant.” In contrast, former chairwoman under David Cameron, Baroness Warsi, conveyed his comments, revealing the “rot at the heart” of the party. Baroness Warsi has also blamed the government for having “dragged its heels on any work to tackle this form of racism.” 

Posting on social media site X, in answer to a post from business secretary Kemi Badenoch, the former party chairwoman stated that “all work on Islamophobia” had stopped: “I met you alongside other colleagues over a year and a half ago, and the definition was explained to you in detail – you were asked to detail your concerns / any objections and the basis of it.”

Over the weekend, deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden declined to say whether the former deputy chairman’s comments were Islamophobic and told BBC One’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg that Mr. Anderson was not “intending to be Islamophobic.”

Former Conservative MP Anna Soubry accused Mr Downden of his refusal to condemn Mr Anderson’s comments. Talking to Sky News, Ms. Soubry said Mr. Dowden’s refusal to call the comments Islamophobic was “quite extraordinary.”

“Oliver Dowden, the deputy Prime Minister of our country, said if he apologized, he would not have lost the whip. I cannot believe the state the Conservative party has got itself into,” she added.

The Telegraph has since briefed that some Conservative MPs have voiced worries about the party’s decision to let Mr. Anderson go as they said their constituents have rallied around the former deputy chairman.

Read More: Call for Rishi Sunak to Initiate Inquiry into ‘Institutional Islamophobia’ within Conservative Party

Chairwoman of the Labour Party Anneliese Dodds stated she has written to the Conservative Party chairs seven times over the past three years calling for them to take action against Islamophobia in the party. “This isn’t something that popped up five minutes ago; it is a continuing concern,” Ms. Dodds said.

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.