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Tory supporters lash out at Sunak snake over Lee Anderson suspension | Conservatives

Tory supporters lash out at Sunak snake over Lee Anderson suspension |  Conservatives

 


Grassroots Tory supporters have branded Rishi Sunak a snake over Lee Anderson's suspension, while Tory right MPs have said he should be given the chance to return.

In leaked WhatsApp messages obtained by the Guardian, members of the Conservative Democratic Organization (CDO), founded by disaffected Tories after the ouster of Boris Johnson and then Liz Truss, attacked the Prime Minister for expelling Anderson from the parliamentary party.

Several activists agreed with Anderson's comments and some went further to denounce the threat of Islam.

Anderson, who was deputy chairman of the Conservative Party until last month, was suspended as party whip on Saturday after refusing to apologize for saying Islamists had taken control of Sadiq Khan. Anderson claimed on GB News that the Mayor of London had handed over our capital to his friends. He now sits as an independent MP for Ashfield.

Several Conservative MPs said Monday they would like to see Anderson readmitted to their ranks if he apologized for his comments. Jonathan Gullis, Conservative MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, told Times Radio: I hope we see him back in this party sooner rather than later, but of course I think he needs to apologize to the mayor Khan.

Another Conservative MP said: He wants to come back. We want him back.

The CDO's leaked WhatsApp messages show the fury with which Anderson's suspension was met by rank-and-file conservatives, several of whom said they agreed with his comments.

The CDO was established in December 2022 by Conservative donor and Johnson supporter Peter Cruddas and includes party members and non-members. He has enjoyed the support of senior right-wing Conservative politicians, including Priti Patel, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nadine Dorries who spoke at his conference last May.

After Anderson's suspension was announced, an activist in a CDO WhatsApp group for the southeast said it was time for the snake of a prime minister to go. Another called Sunak a weirdo and said he should never have been there.

Several members of the group agreed with Anderson's comments and expressed similar sentiments. And everyone says Suella was exaggerating, one activist said. The government is now possessed by fear of the Islamic regime. Another replied: So it's true.

Another member of the group denounced Sunak as weak and weak and said: At an annual general meeting of the association today we were all asked to support Rishi Sunak. But I now see that he has fallen into the trap of a Labor attack on Lee Anderson, which is a diversion from Keir Starmers' pressure/coercion on the Speaker of the House last Wednesday.

Many campaigners have expressed support for Suella Braverman, the former interior minister, who wrote last week that Islamists, extremists and anti-Semites were now in charge.

A CDO member said: She says the exact same thing as Lee Anderson, just in less colorful language and, more importantly, in print. I am beginning to believe that Suella is the one person who has shown courage and can overthrow the party and eliminate the threat of Islam from our country. In a screenshot seen by the Guardian, this message was liked by 10 members of the group.

Group members also shared a CDO petition calling for Anderson's reinstatement, with one person saying she gathered 5,000 signatures overnight.

The messages demonstrate the degree of pessimism activists have about their electoral chances in the general election. Several said Anderson's suspension would turn away voters who agreed with his views.

Lees voters are wondering what happens when they realize they actually need voters to stay in power, one person said. Another noted: 5 years of work [sic] will concentrate the minds, this is the only way for them to wake up unfortunately.

One group member shared a link to a Lee Anderson appreciation group on Facebook alongside the words: In times of universal deception, telling the truth is a revolutionary act, attributing them to George Orwell.

In another WhatsApp group, for CDO members in London, there was speculation about whether Sunak might remove the Conservative whip from Truss. David Campbell Bannerman, the former Conservative MEP, told the group: Truss mentioned that the left was pushing on this.

On Monday, Anderson stood by his comments, admitting they were clumsy but insisting they were born out of pure frustration at what is happening to our great capital.

He said in a statement: If you are wrong, apologizing is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. But when you think you are right, you should never apologize because that would be a sign of weakness.

Rishi Sunak repeatedly refused to characterize Anderson's comments as Islamophobic when pressed during interviews on Monday.

“I was very clear that what he said was wrong, it was unacceptable and that is why we suspended the whip,” the Prime Minister told Yorkshire broadcasters. It is important that everyone, and especially elected officials, be careful with what they say and do not stir up tensions.

Sunak also refused to criticize Braverman, saying his comments were not about any specific individual.

In an article in the Evening Standard on Monday, Khan wrote that Sunak's refusal to label the comments as Islamophobic was a tacit endorsement of anti-Muslim hatred and can only lead to the conclusion that anti-Muslim intolerance Muslim and racism are not taken seriously.

As pressure mounted on Sunak, the Conservative Muslim Forum, which is the party's affiliated body for Muslim members, was in talks to meet the Conservative chairman, Richard Holden, this week.

Naveed Asghar, vice-president of CMF, said: Is the party racist or Islamophobic? I would say no, from the bottom of my heart. People? Yes. Are these people pandering to the electoral base in their seat? I don't see what's happening. If he makes more comments, the party should absolutely talk to him about it. I was hoping the suspension would be enough.

Any inflammatory remarks are simply unacceptable, whether they are anti-Semitic comments from people on the left or anti-Muslim comments from the right.

Gavin Barwell, a peer and former chief of staff to Theresa May, said Anderson should not be allowed back into the parliamentary party until he issues a genuine apology.

As far as what happens next, I think if you were going to let someone back, you would want to be convinced that the apology was genuine, he said. I think it's pretty clear that the language used was used with the intent of stirring up religious hatred and division.

Sources

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2/ https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2024/feb/26/tory-supporters-lash-out-at-snake-sunak-over-lee-anderson-suspension

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