Rishi Sunak has “made the calculation” that he doesn’t need Muslim voters for his “political purposes”, a former minister has claimed.

Tory MP Rehman Chishti told Sky News’ Politics Hub With Sophy Ridge that during the last leadership election, Mr Sunak promised he was “committed” to engaging with the community and told him: “We will work together on this if I become prime minister”.

But Mr Chishti said he had “not seen the prime minister for over a year and a half”.

Politics Live: Islamophobia row deepens for Sunak

The former foreign minister – who once put himself forward for the Conservative Party leadership – also criticised Mr Sunak for failing to appoint an independent adviser on Islamophobia, which both David Cameron and Theresa May did while in office.

Pointing to statistics from the Tell MAMA organisation, Mr Chishti said there had been over 2,000 incidents of anti-Muslim hate crimes in the past four months since the Israel-Hamas war began.

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“I’ve said to the prime minister, look, let’s treat all faith communities fairly and equally,” he told Sophy Ridge.

“So with regards to the Jewish community, antisemitism has seen a real unacceptable rise and therefore the government has rightly put forward the resources [and] it has an independent adviser to deal with antisemitism.

“However, with regards to the Muslim community… the prime minister has failed to appoint an independent adviser on Islamophobia for the last 16 months and there’s been no funding… for that.

“And then you look at the prime minister’s statement [on Sunday], when he talks about intolerance and hate in politics, and he makes it very clear the government is committed to dealing with that and he says dealing with anti-Semitism. Absolutely.

“But there’s no mention in that statement yesterday about tackling anti-Muslim hate.”

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Mr Chishti added: “I think maybe the prime minister has made the calculation, you know, he doesn’t want to engage with the Muslim community because he doesn’t need that for his political purposes.”

Sky News has contacted Number 10 for a response.

Mr Chishti’s remarks come amid an ongoing row within the Tory ranks over the suspension of former deputy chair, Lee Anderson, after he refused to apologise for claiming “Islamists” had taken “control” over London and that mayor Sadiq Khan had “given our capital city away to his mates”.

While Mr Sunak called the remarks unacceptable and “wrong”, he declined to call them Islamophobic.

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PM: Anderson comments ‘ill-judged’

Some Conservatives have called for Mr Anderson to be reinstated, while others want the government to go further in their condemnation of the Ashfield MP.

Mr Chishti said Mr Anderson’s comments were “completely and utterly unacceptable” and a “lazy use of language”.

But he would not say if the remarks were racist, and said it was another justification for having an independent adviser who could make a ruling without political influence.



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