Tory MP Lee Anderson suspended over 'divisive' comments about London Mayor

Lee Anderson has whip removed after saying Sadiq Khan had 'given London away to Islamists'

Conservative MP Lee Anderson has been condemned by politicians in Westminster for his remarks about London Mayor Sadiq Khan. PA
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A Conservative Party MP who made “divisive and dangerous” comments about London Mayor Sadiq Khan has been suspended by his party.

Lee Anderson said Mr Khan, who is London's first Muslim mayor, had given the capital away to “his mates” during an appearance on the right-leaning GB News channel on Friday.

He also went on to say he believes that “Islamists” have taken “control” of Mr Khan and London.

A spokesperson for the Conservative party’s chief whip, Simon Hart, said the decision had been made following the Ashfield MP's “refusal to apologise”.

Responding to Mr Anderson's claim on Saturday, Mr Khan said it was “Islamophobic, racist” and pours “fuel on the fire of anti-Muslim hatred”.

He also said the “deafening silence” of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet amounted to condoning racism.

Former chancellor of the exchequer Sajid Javid called Mr Anderson's remarks “ridiculous” while Labour said it was “appalling racism and Islamophobia”.

Tory peer Gavin Barwell, who was Theresa May’s chief of staff in Number 10, described the comments as a “despicable slur”.

The shadow paymaster general, Jonathan Ashworth, also described the remarks as “divisive deluded and dangerous” and said they would add to the “degradation of British institutions and cultural life on the international stage”.

“It’s time to show some leadership and take on the extremists in your party,” he added, in a letter to Mr Sunak.

Labour MP Jess Philips said the remarks would make Muslim politicians in Britain targets of hate.

Non-Muslim politicians should take a stand to make sure their colleagues are “not alone”, she added in a post on X.

Hope not Hate, an antiracism organisation, has also written to Conservative party chairman Richard Holden, describing Mr Anderson's comments as “highly defamatory, divisive and inaccurate”.

The organisation added that Mr Anderson was “stoking the flames of the far-right and could put the mayor of London in serious danger”.

Its chief executive, Nick Lowes, also called on Mr Holden to expel Mr Anderson from the party.

A Conservative Party source earlier 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.”

Mr Anderson, a former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, joined parliament as MP for Ashfield in 2019.

He had been a councillor for the Labour Party before defecting to the Tories in 2018.

The furore comes after Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Commons Speaker, broke with precedent and allowed a wider vote on a ceasefire in Gaza amid concerns about intimidation of some parliamentarians.

The war in Gaza has been highly divisive in Britain and has led to a sharp rise in racially-motivated incidents, figures show.

Islamophobic incidents in the UK have tripled in more four months since the attacks on Israel, according to an organisation monitoring anti-Muslim sentiment.

There were 2,010 cases of anti-Muslim abuse between October 7, 2023, and February 7 this year, reported Tell Mama, an organisation that describes itself as the leading agency on measuring anti-Muslim hate.

During the same four-month period a year previously, 600 cases were reported.

This month, the Community Security Trust said it had recorded an “explosion in hatred” against the Jewish community since the October 7 attacks.

Updated: February 24, 2024, 3:49 PM