Labour MPs accused David Cameron of being “racist” today after he attacked the party’s mayoral candidate for sharing a platform with a so-called hate preacher.
The Prime Minister was met with shouts of “racist” as he claimed he was “concerned” about Sadiq Khan’s “judgement”.
The attack echoes lines from the Tory Mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith, who has accused his Labour rival of providing “cover” for extremists.
During Prime Minster’s Questions this afternoon, Cameron brought the at time vicious campaign to succeed Boris Johnson as London Mayor into the Commons chamber.
He said: “If we are going to condemn not just violent extremism but also extremism that seeks to justify violence in any way it is very important we do not back these people and we do not appear on platforms with them.
“And I have to say I am concerned about Labour’s candidate as mayor of London who has appeared as again and again and again...”
After being interrupted by heckles, Cameron continued: “The leader of the Labour party is saying it is disgraceful. Let me tell him, Sulaiman Ghani –the honorable member for Tooting has appeared on a platform with him nine times.
“This man supports IS [Islamic State]. I think they are shouting down this point because they don’t want to hear the truth. Anyone can make a mistake about who they appear on a platform with, but if you do it time after time after time, it is right to question your judgment.”
Labour MPs took to Twitter to vent their anger, with former Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna accusing Cameron of taking part in an “Islamophobic campaign”.
Asked about the ‘racist’ charge from Labour MPs, a Downing Street spokesman told HuffPost UK: “It’s complete nonsense.
“This is somebody who on the night of the Paris terrorist attacks was making a speech in Bradford calling for the establishment of an Islamic state.
“Raising questions about the judgement of Sadiq Khan, sharing a platform [with Sulaiman Ghani] not on one occasion but on nine occasions with those kind of extreme views, is a perfectly legitimate thing to do. To try and brand that ‘racist’ I think does a disservice to the Labour party.”
In an interview with Huff Post UK earlier this month, Khan sought to distance himself from Ghani’s extreme views.
He said: “When I first stood for Parliament in 2005 there were extremists outside the mosque I had prayed in all my life saying that voting was haram, anybody who took part in my election was going to hell and I was definitely going to hell because I was taking part in what was called man-made law.
“I voted for same-sex marriage – that very imam that Guido Fawkes claims is close to me said horrible things about me, publicly, and I was condemned in no uncertain terms by him and others and had a fatwa put out against me.
“I had to discuss with my daughters police protection and safety and that sort of stuff. I’ve said, and it’s not a flippant line, it’s something I believe quite strongly about, that I will be the British Muslim who take the fight to the extremists.”