Rishi Sunak says Lee Anderson 'not racist' over Sadiq Khan row

  • Video report by Charanpreet Khaira.

The prime minister has denied Lee Anderson is racist after his claims that "Islamists" had "got control" of Sadiq Khan.

Mr Anderson, MP for Ashfield, lost the Conservative whip after failing to apologise for the comments he made about the London mayor.

Rishi Sunak told ITV News Calendar that the comments were "wrong, unacceptable and ill-judged", however he repeatedly refused to condemn them as Islamophobic.

The prime minister, and MP for Richmond in North Yorkshire, added: "I don't believe Lee is a racist or Islamophobic person, but the comments were wrong."

During a visit to Siemens in Goole, East Yorkshire, Mr Sunak said that the whip was removed from the former deputy chairman because of the comments, but would not answer when asked whether Mr Anderson would be allowed back into the party if he apologised.

Meanwhile, the now independent MP has today doubled down on his remarks, telling GB News: "I made some comments yesterday that some people thought were divisive. Politics is divisive and I am just incredibly frustrated about the abject failures of the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

"If you are wrong, apologising is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. But when you think you are right you should never apologise because to do so would be a sign of weakness."

Following Mr Anderson's latest comments, increased police patrols are being carried out around his constituency office in Nottinghamshire.

The prime minister told ITV News Calendar: "It's important that everyone is careful with the words they use, particularly at a time when tensions are already running high.

"I think it's incumbent on everybody, but particularly politicians, to be careful with the words they use so they don't unnecessarily inflame the situation."

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