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Tories’ ‘toxic racism and Islamophobia’ risks fuelling more hate on the streets

Pressure piles on Sunak to remove whip from Braverman and Truss

CAMPAIGNERS have called on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to withdraw the whip from Suella Braverman and Liz Truss, warning that their propagation of “toxic racism and Islamophobia” could fuel far-right hatred on the streets. 

The demands came after the Tory whip was removed from Lee Anderson after he made Islamophobic comments to GB News about London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

“He’s given our capital city away to his mates,” Mr Anderson said.

“I don’t actually believe that the Islamists have got control of our country, but what I do believe is they’ve got control of Khan, and they’ve got control of London.”

Mr Khan described the MP’s remarks as “pouring fuel on the fire of anti-Muslim hatred.”

Mr Sunak removed the whip, but only after Mr Anderson failed to apologise for his comments.

In a statement on Saturday, Mr Sunak warned of an “explosion in prejudice and anti-semitism" but failed to address Mr Anderson’s rant or Islamophobia — despite the Muslim Council of Britain warning that there has been an 335 per cent increase in Islamaphobic incidents over the last four months. 

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer accused Mr Sunak of harbouring “extremists in his party.”

Mr Anderson’s comments were soon followed by an article in the Daily Telegraph by former home secretary Suella Braverman.

She wrote: “The Islamists, the extremists and the anti-semites are in charge.”

Across the Atlantic, former Prime Minister Liz Truss attempted to drum up new support by attending the far-right Conservative Political Action Conference.

While a guest on War Room, the podcast of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, she said that “a radical Islamic party” could win the Rochdale by-election.

She also failed to challenge Mr Bannon’s description of fascist Tommy Robinson as a “hero.”

Stand up to Racism co-convener Sabby Dhalu said: “Suella Braverman’s comments in the run-up to Armistice Day led to a violent fascist riot by Tommy Robinson and others in central London. 

“Braverman and Liz Truss’s recent inflammatory comments can only lead to more fascist violence, racist and Islamophobic attacks on the streets of Britain.

“Braverman has already demonstrated form on this and cannot be allowed to get away with this toxic hate campaign.

“Yet we’ve heard not a peep from the Prime Minister on Braverman and Truss.”

Ms Dhalu called on Mr Sunak to withdraw them from the whip.

In an interview on Sky News, Georgina Laming from Hope Not Hate also said that the whip should “100 per cent” be removed from Ms Truss.

“We are seeing this massive shift towards the radical right of the Conservative Party,” she said.

“If Rishi Sunak doesn't take control of this soon, it could be far too late.”

She said that Mr Anderson’s remarks are “clearly racist” and “stoking the flames of the far-right.”

But concerns have been raised that Mr Anderson’s punishment won’t stick.

On having the whip returned, Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden told GB News that he “certainly wouldn’t rule that out,” less than 24 hours after it was removed.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, shadow cabinet office minister Jonathan Ashworth wrote: “This would suggest that — even now — the Conservative Party is not taking the threat of Islamophobia seriously.”

Writing to the Conservative chair Richard Holden, Zara Mohammed, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain said: “Our view is that the Islamophobia in the party is institutional, tolerated by the leadership and seen as acceptable by great swathes of the party membership.”

Tell Mama, the national project which measures anti-Muslim incidents in Britain, said there were 2,010 anti-Muslim hate cases between October 7 2023 and February 7 this year, compared with 600 cases for the same period a year previously.

The MCB have called for an investigation into structural Islamophobia in the party.

“Leaders — especially those in politics — have the ability to shape the agenda and a narrative, and play a role in Islamophobic hate crime, which has recently trebled according to Tell Mama,” said Ms Mohammed.

“These issues cannot — and must not — be ignored.”

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