Lee Anderson refuses to rule out joining Reform UK after Sadiq Khan's Islamist allegations

  • Written by Kate Whannell
  • Political correspondent, BBC News

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FORMER miner Lee Anderson has joined the Conservative Party after previously working for a Labor MP

Lee Anderson has refused to rule out joining Reform UK after he was suspended by the Conservative Party for suggesting Sadiq Khan was controlled by Islamists.

The former Conservative deputy leader also criticized the party for not showing “a little more support”.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described the Ashfield MP's comments as wrong but avoided saying whether he thought they were anti-Islam.

Sir Keir Starmer, the Labor leader, said Sunak lacked the “backbone” to fight Islamophobia.

Mr Anderson says his attacks on Mr Khan were motivated by frustration with the London Mayor's record.

During a discussion with GB News on Friday afternoon, Mr Anderson said: “I don't actually think the Islamists have taken over our country, but what I do think is that they have taken over Khan and they have taken over London, and they have taken over Starmer as well.”

He later added: “People are coming in their thousands, doing anything they want, and they are mocking our police. This is due to Khan. He gave our capital to his colleagues.”

Mr. Anderson was responding to Daily Telegraph article Written by former Interior Secretary Suella Braverman, she said: “The truth is that Islamists, extremists and anti-Semites are now in charge.”

Braverman said Islamists “bullied Labor” over its stance on the war in Gaza, and that some people who participated in pro-Palestinian marches had links to Islamists.

In a later statement issued on GB News – which employs the MP as a broadcaster – Anderson said: “When you think you are in the right, you should never apologize because doing so would be a sign of weakness.”

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

Anderson told the channel on Monday that the Conservative Party “could have given me more support”, after showing “a little remorse”.

He said the pro-Palestinian protests outside Parliament and threats to MPs showed that Khan had “lost control of the city”.

He insisted his comments were “not racist at all” and said he would not apologize to Mr Khan “while I'm breathing down my body”.

When pressed on whether he would join the right-wing Reform Party of Britain, the former Labor councilor declined to comment but said he was “on a political journey”.

“You will say Lee Anderson is ruling out/is not ruling out joining the Reform Party, so I'm not commenting on my future,” he said.

When asked if he would be a Conservative candidate at the next election, Anderson said “that's not my thing”, but added that he would still be a candidate.

UK reform leader Richard Tice, who is also a GB News presenter, appeared to leave the door open for Mr Anderson on Monday, saying he “may have been clumsy in his careful choice of words, but his sentiments are supported by millions of British citizens, including myself”. .

He added: “I do not and will not provide ongoing commentary on any discussions I have had with any MPs, but these MPs have my number.”

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Sunak said Anderson's choice of words “was not acceptable, it was a mistake, that's why the whip was suspended”.

He said that parliamentarians “must” not raise the debate “in a way that is harmful to others.”

The Prime Minister also denied the existence of anti-Islamic tendencies in his party.

But Labor leader Sir Keir told reporters: “This is really key. Islamophobia is something every political leader should be calling out for, and the prime minister is not calling out because he is too weak.”

“It shouldn't be difficult to criticize comments that are unequivocally ignorant, biased and racist. Yet those at the top of the Conservative government stubbornly refuse to do so.”

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Sadiq Khan said Lee Anderson's comments should be described as anti-Islam

Conservative MP Rehman Chishti, a Muslim, called on the prime minister to appoint an independent adviser on Islamophobia, a position that has been vacant since June 2022.

He told the BBC that Sunak had “failed to engage” with him on tackling Islamophobia, and he had “genuine concerns in relation to the Prime Minister’s judgment on these matters”.

In 2019, the Conservative Party launched an investigation into how the party handled allegations of discrimination, following allegations of Islamophobic behaviour.

The report found evidence of anti-Muslim views at the local association and individual levels, but said the evidence did not support allegations of “institutional racism.”

“Restricted areas”

Asked about Mr Anderson's comments on BBC Radio London, Paul Scally, a Conservative MP – and former London minister – said concerns that some places such as parts of Tower Hamlets in London and Sparkhill in Birmingham were becoming necessary “no-go zones”. . “to treat it.”

He said: “Lee tends to shoot from the hip. Sometimes he goes too far. This is an occasion where he went too far.”

Birmingham Labor MP Jess Phillips urged Scully to apologize for his comments about Sparkhill, which she described as “absolute nonsense”.

Andy Street, the Conservative Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “The idea of ​​a no-go zone in Birmingham is new to me, and I am suspicious of the good people in Sparkhill. It is really time for those in Westminster to stop with the slander and empty experiments.” The real world.”

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said Sunak disagreed with Scully's comments, adding: “The Prime Minister has spoken before about the value of the very diverse societies and societies we have in the UK.”

“There are areas where there is a small minority of people who make people uncomfortable because they are not of their religion or culture, and who misinterpret their faith,” he said.

Mr Scully added: “If I spoke incorrectly or caused upset I apologise.”

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