United Kingdom

Tory whip denies telling MP she was sacked due to her ‘Muslimness’

Mark Spencer denied the allegations by Nusrat Ghani (Picture: REX/UK Parliament/PA)

The Chief Whip has strenuously denied a Tory MP’s claims that she was sacked as a minister partly because of her ‘Muslimness’.

Nusrat Ghani said that when she lost her job as a transport minister in 2020, a Government whip told her had been raised as an issue at a Downing Street meeting to discuss the reshuffle – and suggested that her faith was ‘making colleagues uncomfortable’.

The explosive allegations, made in an interview with The Sunday Times, sparked widespread condemnation from Conservative MPs and opposition parties, prompting calls for an inquiry.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said there was no place for Islamophobia or any form of racism in the party, and that Ms Ghani’s allegations must be ‘investigated properly and racism routed out’.

Yet in a dramatic move on Saturday night, chief whip Mark Spencer admitted that he was the individual who spoke to Ms Ghani – before strongly refuting her claims.

In a statement posted to Twitter (after deleting an earlier effort), Mr Spencer posted: ‘To ensure other Whips are not drawn into this matter, I am identifying myself as the person Nusrat Ghani MP has made claims about this evening.

‘These accusations are completely false and I consider them to be defamatory. I have never used those words attributed to me.’

Mr Spencer said ‘I have never used those words attributed to me’ (Picture: Reuters)

The row ahead of a crucial week for Boris Johnson’s premiership, with Sue Gray, the senior civil servant investigating lockdown parties in Downing Street, expected to deliver her report.

The behaviour of the whips has come under intense scrutiny amid the backlash to partygate, with claims that their tactics amounted to blackmail and were used to pressurise Tory MPs seeking to oust the Prime Minister.

The Conservative Party has been repeatedly accused of Islamophobia, with an inquiry carried out two years ago by Professor Swaran Singh – but quickly branded a ‘whitewash’ by Muslim Tories.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said on Sunday that there will be no ‘specific investigation’ into Ms Dhani’s claims, which he branded ‘incredibly serious’.

‘If there are any claims like this they should result in a formal complaint which allows a formal investigation to take place,’ Mr Raab told Sky News’s Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme.

Ms Ghani said she ‘felt humiliated and powerless’ (Picture: PA)

‘As the chief whip has pointed out, Nus hasn’t made a formal complaint. She was asked to do so. In the absence of doing so there will be no specific investigation into this.’

In her interview, Ms Ghani, the MP for Wealden, said she was shocked when the issue of her background and faith was raised during a meeting in the whips’ office after the mini-reshuffle in February 2020.

‘It was like being punched in the stomach. I felt humiliated and powerless,’ she said.

‘I was told that at the reshuffle meeting in Downing Street that “Muslimness” was raised as an “issue”, that my “Muslim women minister” status was making colleagues uncomfortable and that there were concerns “that I wasn’t loyal to the party as I didn’t do enough to defend the party against Islamophobia allegations”.

‘It was very clear to me that the whips and No 10 were holding me to a higher threshold of loyalty than others because of my background and faith.

‘In the following weeks, I was informed that if I persisted in raising this that I would be ostracised by colleagues and my career and reputation would be destroyed.’

Labour MP Tan Dhesi came out in support of his Conservative colleague, tweeting: ‘Solidarity with Nusrat, as this is vile!’

‘As I said in 2019, given increasing prevalence of such incidents, when is Boris Johnson starting the independent inquiry into Islamophobia within the Conservative Party, something which he promised on national TV?’

The senior Tory who first raised the issue of the conduct of the whips office, William Wragg – the chairman of the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee – also voiced his support for Ms Ghani.

‘Nus is very brave to speak out. I was truly appalled to learn of her experience. She shows such strength and integrity supporting others,’ he tweeted.


Chris Bryant, Commons Standards and Boris Johnson

No 10’s attempts to save Boris Johnson are illegal, says head of sleaze watchdog

Mr Wragg is due to discuss his concerns – including claims whips threatened to withhold public funding from the constituencies of MPs calling from Mr Johnson to resign – with the Metropolitan Police detective this week.

Labour Party chair Anneliese Dodds said there was a ‘rotten culture’ at the heart of government and that Mr Johnson and Tory chairman Oliver Dowden must launch an urgent investigation into Ms Ghani’s allegations.

‘This is just the latest allegation in a long list of appalling behaviour at the centre of government that the Prime Minister appears willing to overlook,’ she said.

‘This rotten culture starts at the top – the lack of respect in No 10 is embarrassing our country and letting people down.’

A spokesman on behalf of the whips office said: ‘These claims are categorically untrue. Ministerial roles are appointed on merit and rewards for hard work.

‘The Conservative Party does not tolerate any form of racism or discrimination.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

For more stories like this, check our news page.


MORE : No 10’s attempts to save Boris Johnson are illegal, says head of sleaze watchdog


Checkout latest world news below links :
World News || Latest News || U.S. News

Source link

Back to top button