PM warns of hatred in politics after Anderson rowon February 25, 2024 at 7:36 am

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Rishi Sunak does not address Lee Anderson’s comments, but warns of the dangers of polarisation.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak taking part in a media interview in Deganwy, Conwy, during a visit to north Wales on Friday.Image source, Reuters

Rishi Sunak has warned of the dangers of polarisation and hatred in politics, after a fractious week in Westminster.

He was speaking after Tory MP Lee Anderson was suspended from his party for refusing to apologise for “Islamist” comments about Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

The prime minister did not directly address the remarks, but talked about protests and the safety of MPs.

Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer called for Mr Sunak to “get a grip” of his party.

Ashfield MP Mr Anderson was criticised by both Labour and Tory MPs after he told GB NewsIslamists had “got control” of Mr Khan and that he had “given our capital city away to his mates”.

Responding to the remarks on Saturday, Mr Khan called Mr Anderson’s comments “Islamophobic, anti-Muslim and racist” and criticised the prime minister and his Cabinet for what he called a “deafening silence” on the issue., Mr Khan called Mr Anderson’s comments “Islamophobic, anti-Muslim and racist” and criticised the prime minister and his Cabinet for what he called a “deafening silence” on the issue.

An hour later, a spokesman for the Tory party’s chief whip Simon Hart confirmed that the whip had been removed from Mr Anderson “following his refusal to apologise” for his comments.

Removal of the whip means that Mr Anderson, who is also a GB News presenter, has essentially been expelled from his party in Parliament.

Following his suspension Mr Anderson said he “understood the difficult position” he had put the prime minister in and said he would “continue to support the government’s efforts to call out extremism in all its forms – be that antisemitism or Islamophobia”.

But Mr Khan described the Conservative Party’s decision as “belated” and sought to maintain pressure on the prime minister by saying his silence on the matter was “tacit endorsement”.

Until January Mr Anderson served as one of the deputy chairmen of the Conservative Party, but he resigned so he could rebel against the government over the Rwanda vote.

On Saturday evening, Labour leader Sir Keir questioned the prime minister’s judgement in appointing him to the role.

He said Mr Sunak needed to “take on the extremists in his party” and had a responsibility to “stop this slide into ever more toxic rhetoric”.

MP for Ashfield, Lee Anderson

Image source, Getty Images

In a statement, also on Saturday evening, Mr Sunak did not address Mr Anderson’s words but warned of an “explosion in prejudice and antisemitism” since the attacks by Hamas on Israel on 7 October.

“The events of recent weeks are but the latest in an emerging pattern which should not be tolerated,” the prime minister added.

He said legitimate protests had been “hijacked by extremists” and said elected representatives had been “verbally threatened and physically, violently targeted”.

“And in Parliament this week a very dangerous signal was sent that this sort of intimidation works,” he said.

Mr Sunak was speaking following a week which as seen a heightened tension in Westminster, with a row over a vote by MPs on a ceasefire in Gaza, and concerns for MPs’ safety.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said his controversial handling of a debate on Gaza was to ensure MPs’ safety, while crossbench peer Lord Walney, the government’s Independent Adviser on Political Violence and Disruption, has said MPs needed protecting from “intimidation”.

The Sunday Times has reported that three female MPs have been given bodyguards and chauffeur-drive cars due to concerns about their safety.

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