Tory Confusion As Sunak Says Lee Anderson's 'Unacceptable' Comments Triggered His Suspension

But the deputy PM said yesterday that the former Tory deputy chairman lost the whip because he refused to apologise for his remarks about Sadiq Khan
Rishi Sunak said Lee Anderson's 'unacceptable' remarks got him suspended
Rishi Sunak said Lee Anderson's 'unacceptable' remarks got him suspended

Rishi Sunak said Lee Anderson’s attack on Sadiq Khan was “unacceptable” and triggered his suspension from the Conservative Party.

Anderson claimed “Islamists” have “got control” of the London mayor, who is Muslim – then refused to apologise for his remarks, leading to the Tory whip being removed.

The prime minister used his first public comments on the weekend controversy to distance himself from the ex-Tory MP when speaking to local media outlets.

In reference to Anderson’s comments, Host of BBC Radio York, Georgey Spanswick, asked Sunak: “Has the Conservative Party got Islamophobic tendencies?”

“No, of course it doesn’t,” the prime minister said. “And I think it’s incumbent on all of us, especially those elected to parliament, not to inflame our debates in a way that’s harmful to others.

“Lee’s comments were not acceptable, they were wrong and that’s why he’s had the whip suspended.”

Confusingly, Sunak’s deputy PM Oliver Dowden told the BBC on Sunday that Anderson lost the whip “having failed to apologise” for his choice of words – rather than for the comments themselves.

Dowden even refused to rule out reinstating the whip for Anderson if he did apologise for his words.

The Conservative Party’s official statement on Saturday also said: “Following his refusal to apologise for comments made yesterday, the Chief Whip has suspended the Conservative whip from Lee Anderson MP.”

But, speaking on Monday, Sunak seemed to have a different approach.

He said: “Words matter, especially in the current environment, where tensions are running high, and I think it’s incumbent on all of us to choose them carefully.”

Spanswick said: “How frustrating is it that he hasn’t apologised for those comments?”

The prime minister said: “Look the most important thing is that people realise the words they use in a situation that we’re in now where tensions are running higher than I think any of us would like, and I think my priority is to try and take the heat out of the situation.

“That’s what everyone wants to see, and that’s why words matter, and his words weren’t acceptable, they were wrong, and that’s why the whip was suspended.”


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