Lee Anderson accuses Sadiq Khan of ‘playing the race card’ – and insists he is not racist

UK

Lee Anderson has accused Sadiq Khan of “playing the race card” as he denied being racist following a row that resulted in his suspension as a Tory MP.

Mr Anderson used a column in the Daily Express to hit back at accusations of Islamophobia and racism following his comments about London’s mayor.

The Ashfield MP, a former deputy Conservative party chairman, said in an interview with GB News that he believed “Islamists” had taken over control of London and Mr Khan.

He was suspended by Rishi Sunak after he refused to apologise for the comments, which were branded “divisive” and “dangerous”.

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1:50

‘Pouring petrol on the flames of Islamophobia’

In the newspaper, Mr Anderson accused the mayor – along with the Labour Party and the media – of accusing him of racism for “political advantage”.

He wrote: “Sadly, Sadiq Khan has resorted to playing the race card and accused me of stoking up division.”

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Mr Anderson went on to claim that Mr Khan had not condemned “shocking scenes” that saw “vile slogans” projected onto Big Ben.

He wrote: “The mayor of London should be making sure that our streets are safe and people are not living in fear.

“He is doing neither and has used my comments as a distraction to cover up his own failings.

“I do not believe the mayor is an Islamist, I just think he does not care about our beautiful city and people in high places should have more sense than to make these outrageous claims that I am racist or Islamophobic.”

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1:19

Lee Anderson comments ‘despairingly racist’

Downing Street said yesterday that Rishi Sunak did not believe Mr Anderson to be racist but said “the language he used was wrong and it’s unacceptable obviously to conflate all Muslims with Islamist extremism or the extreme ideology of Islamism”.

The spokesperson also said ministers had not been instructed not to use the term “Islamophobia”, saying the terms “conflates race with religion, does not address sectarianism within Islam and may inadvertently undermine freedom of speech”.

“Anti-Muslim hatred is the more precise term which better reflects UK hate crime legislation,” they added.

A spokesperson for Sadiq Khan declined to comment.

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