UK MP claims she lost her ministerial job because of her ‘Muslimness’

Nusrat Ghani said she 'felt humiliated and powerless' after alleged comments

2A1YCG8 Manchester, UK. 29th September 2019. Nusrat Ghani, MP for Wealden speaks at the Policy Exchange event, Challenging 'Islamophobia' on day one of the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester. © Russell Hart/Alamy Live News.

A member of parliament from the UK's ruling Conservative Party has said she lost her ministerial job in the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson partly because her Muslim faith was making colleagues uncomfortable.

Nusrat Ghani, 49, who was removed as a junior transport minister in February 2020, told the Sunday Times she was informed by a “whip” — an enforcer of parliamentary discipline — that her “Muslimness” had been raised as an issue in her sacking.

There was no immediate response to her comments from Mr Johnson's Downing Street office, but Mark Spencer, the government's chief whip, said he was the person at the centre of Ms Ghani's allegations.

“These accusations are completely false and I consider them to be defamatory,” he said on Twitter. “I have never used those words attributed to me.”

Ms Ghani's remarks come after one of her Conservative colleagues said he would meet police to discuss accusations that government whips had attempted to “blackmail” MPs suspected of trying to force Mr Johnson from office over public anger about parties held at his Downing Street office during Covid lockdowns.

The scandals have drained public support from both Mr Johnson personally and his party, presenting him with the most serious crisis of his premiership.

“It was like being punched in the stomach. I felt humiliated and powerless,” Ms Ghani said.

“I was told that at the reshuffle meeting in Downing Street that ‘Muslimness’ was raised as an ‘issue’, that my ‘Muslim women minister’ status was making colleagues uncomfortable.

“I will not pretend that this hasn’t shaken my faith in the party and I have at times seriously considered whether to continue as an MP .”

In his response, Mr Spencer said Ms Ghani had declined to put the matter to a formal internal investigation when she first raised the issue last March.

The Conservative Party has previously faced accusations of Islamophobia, and a report in May last year criticised it over how it dealt with complaints of discrimination against Muslims.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said there was no place for Islamophobia or any form of racism in the party, and that her allegations must be “investigated properly and racism routed out”.

Updated: January 24, 2022, 10:23 AM
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