Sadiq Khan: Lee Anderson comments 'pour fuel on fire of anti-Muslim hatred'

Credit: PA

Lee Anderson said "Islamists" had "got control" of Sadiq Khan, which the London mayor said was Islamaphobic and racist.
Lee Anderson (left) and Sadiq Khan, the London mayor Credit: PA

Sadiq Khan has said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's "deafening silence" is condoning racism and Islamophobia in the wake of Lee Anderson's comments about the London mayor.

On Friday, the former deputy Tory chairman said "Islamists" had “got control” of Mr Khan and that the mayor had “given our capital city away to his mates.”

ITV News understands the Conservative MP and former Chancellor, Sajid Javid, has privately urged Rishi Sunak to withdraw the whip from Lee Anderson unless he issues an apology for his remarks.

On Saturday afternoon, it was announced that Mr Anderson has had the Conservative whip suspended 'following his refusal to apologise' for comments about Mr Khan.

Responding to Mr Anderson's comments, the London Mayor said: "These comments from a senior Conservative are Islamophobic, are anti-Muslim and are racist.

"We’ve seen over the last two days confirmation that over the last few months there’s been an increase in anti-Muslim cases by more than 330%.

"These comments pour fuel on the fire of anti-Muslim hatred.

"I’m afraid the deafening silence from Rishi Sunak and the cabinet is them condoning this racism."

London Mayor Sadiq Khan Credit: Victoria Jones/PA

Grant Shapps, the defence secretary, told ITV News that he had not listened to the MP for Ashfield's comments, but said he "wouldn't use that kind of language" about Mr Khan.

In an appearance on GB News, Mr Anderson had said: “I don’t actually believe that the Islamists have got control of our country, but what I do believe is they’ve got control of Khan and they’ve got control of London… He’s actually given our capital city away to his mates.”

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The remarks prompted criticism from Labour and some Conservatives, with senior Tory MP Sir Sajid Javid describing them as “ridiculous”.

Business minister Nus Ghani, meanwhile, said the comments were “foolish and dangerous”.

Mr Khan added that he believed the way the claims were being handled by the Conservative Party showed a "hierarchy when it comes to racism".

"I think it’s really important to call out antisemitism, misogyny, and homophobia, but surely it must also be important to call out anti-Muslim hatred," he said.

Lee Anderson said he won’t be campaigning in certain Tory constituencies Credit: Jacob King/PA

"My concern is there will be people across the country who are Muslim or look like Muslims, who will be really concerned about entering politics, because if these are the sort of comments that are said against me by a senior Conservative, what chance do they have?"

The Muslim Council of Britain said the comments were “disgusting” and criticised the “silence of the party in the face of such extremism”.

A spokesperson said: “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.”

Lee Anderson and the Conservative Party have been approached for comments by ITV News.

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