Conservative MP Lee Anderson has been criticised for “divisive and dangerous” comments about London mayor Sadiq Khan – with some calling for him to be kicked out of the party.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said the former Tory deputy chairman had engaged in “outright racism and Islamophobia”, while ex-Tory MP Gavin Barwell said Mr Anderson was spreading “hate and division”.

The Labour Party has now written to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak calling for the whip to be removed from Mr Anderson, which would mean he would sit as an independent MP rather than a Conservative.

Speaking on GB News, Mr Anderson said Mr Khan had given the capital “away” to his “mates”.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Lee Anderson, MP for Ashfield react during a visit to Woodland View Primary School in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, Britain January 4, 2024. Jacob King/Pool via REUTERS
Image:
Rishi Sunak and Lee Anderson during a visit to a school in Nottinghamshire last month. Pic: Reuters

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

Criticism quickly poured in following the comments, including from former Tory home secretary Sajid Javid. He said: “What a ridiculous thing to say.”

Mr Streeting said: “Divisive and dangerous. The Conservatives have gone beyond the dogwhistle playbook of previous mayoral elections to outright racism and Islamophobia.

“Enough is enough.”

Anneliese Dodds, the chair of the Labour Party, added: “Lee Anderson’s comments are unambiguously racist and Islamophobic.

“Rishi Sunak needs to immediately remove the whip. If he is too weak, then people will take their own view of the modern Conservative Party.”

‘Vile and appalling’

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow paymaster general, wrote to the prime minister saying Mr Anderson should have the party whip removed.

He described his remarks as “vile” and “appalling racism and Islamophobia”.

Mr Ashworth also called for former prime minister Liz Truss to have the whip removed for her comments about the “deep state”, her controversial speech to a US conference and media appearances with the likes of Steve Bannon.

He wrote: “It’s time to show some leadership and take on the extremists in your party. Liz Truss and Lee Anderson must no longer sit as Conservative MPs. Their words cannot go unchecked or unchallenged.”

Campaign group Hope Not Hate has also written to Conservative Party chair Richard Holden, describing Mr Anderson’s comments as “highly defamatory, divisive and inaccurate”.

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

Nick Lowes, the chief executive of Hope Not Hate, also called on Mr Holden to expel Mr Anderson from the party.

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Another Tory to criticise Mr Anderson was former MP Rory Stewart. He said: “No conservative MP should ever be spouting this stuff”.

Labour MP Flo Eshalomi also hit out at the comments by pointing to recent reporting of a sharp increase in anti-Muslim hate.

A Conservative Party source 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.”

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Mr Anderson was a deputy chair of the Conservative Party, until he resigned his post to vote against Mr Sunak’s Rwanda bill.

He later said he wished could get his job back.

It is not the first time Mr Anderson has been subject to controversy.

He has been nicknamed “30p Lee” by some critics for previously suggesting that someone could cook themselves meals from scratch for “about 30 pence a day“.



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