LONDON: A Conservative MP in the UK is embroiled in controversy after claiming that Islamists have “got control” of Sadiq Khan, the Muslim mayor of London.
Lee Anderson made the comments in an interview on the GB News channel, and has since faced condemnation and calls for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to expel him from the governing Conservative Party.
Anderson told the channel on Friday, referring to major pro-Palestinian protests in the capital: “I don’t actually believe that these 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.
“Again, this stems with Khan — he’s actually given our capital city away to his mates. If you let Labour in through the back door, expect more of this and expect our cities to be taken over by these lunatics.”
His comments follow similar claims by former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who wrote in the Daily Telegraph that “the Islamists, the extremists and the antisemites are in charge now,” the BBC reported.
Anderson’s comments about Khan have been condemned by senior opposition figures. Labour Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds described the remarks as “unambiguously racist and Islamophobic.” On X, she called for Sunak to sack Anderson “immediately,” Sky News reported.
Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow paymaster general, called for the same measure, describing Anderson’s comments as “vile” and “appalling racism and Islamophobia.”
Ashworth also referred to former Prime Minister Liz Truss, who recently took aim at the “deep state” in an appearance at a US conservative conference.
“It’s time to show some leadership and take on the extremists in your party,” Ashworth said in a letter to Sunak. “Liz Truss and Lee Anderson must no longer sit as Conservative MPs. Their words cannot go unchecked or unchallenged.”
Figures within Anderson’s own party have been divided in response to his comments. Former Chancellor Sajid Javid described the claims as “a ridiculous thing to say” in a post on X.
Former Conservative MP Gavin Barwell said Anderson had made a “despicable slur on Sadiq Khan and Londoners,” The Independent reported.
Barwell added: “In his first speech as PM, Rishi Sunak said he would ‘unite our country.’ If he allows the likes of Anderson to spread hate and division like this, those words will be revealed as a sham.”
Khan, who has served as mayor of London since 2016, is the first Muslim to hold the position.
Pro-Palestinian protests, which have been held weekly in London since the outbreak of the Gaza conflict last October, have angered some quarters of the Conservative Party.
In response to the furore surrounding Anderson’s comments, a Conservative Party source said: “Lee was simply making the point that the mayor, in his capacity as police and crime commissioner for London, has abjectly failed to get a grip on the appalling Islamist marches we have seen in London recently.”