Lee Anderson has been suspended from the Conservative Party after making a widely criticised claim that London Mayor Sadiq Khan was controlled by “Islamists”.

The decision was taken following the former Tory deputy chairman’s “refusal to apologise” for the remarks made on Friday, a spokesperson for chief whip Simon Hart said.

Pressure had been mounting on Rishi Sunak to take action over the comments from the Ashfield MP, with Mr Khan saying the “deafening silence” of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet on the matter amounted to condoning racism.


A Conservative source was defending Mr Anderson as recently as Friday evening before he was stripped of party support on Saturday afternoon.

Cabinet minister Grant Shapps earlier distanced himself from the remarks but stopped short of condemning his fellow MP, arguing that people should be allowed to “speak their mind”.

However, business minister Nus Ghani and senior backbencher Sir Sajid Javid were among other Tory figures joining a growing chorus of criticism from across the political divide.

In an appearance on GB News on Friday, Mr Anderson had said: “I don’t actually believe that the 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… He’s actually given our capital city away to his mates.”

The claim was denounced by former chancellor Sir Sajid Javid as “ridiculous” and by Tory peer Gavin Barwell, who was Theresa May’s No 10 chief of staff, as a “despicable slur”.

Covid-19 pandemic inquirySir Sajid Javid condemned Lee Anderson’s remarks (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Labour called on Mr Sunak to “show some leadership” and discipline the MP, with shadow Cabinet Office minister Jonathan Ashworth writing a letter to the PM demanding the whip be withdrawn.

A spokesperson for Mr Hart said: “Following his refusal to apologise for comments made yesterday, the chief whip has suspended the Conservative whip from Lee Anderson MP.”

Mr Anderson, a standard bearer for the Tory right, will now sit as an Independent unless he defects to another party that chooses to offer him its backing.

Reform UK leader Richard Tice previously suggested he has been in touch with senior Conservative MPs who were “absolutely furious” about the Government’s handling of immigration.

Mr Anderson was deputy chairman of the Tory Party until resigning in January to rebel against Mr Sunak’s legislation to revive the stalled plan to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda.

He joined 58 other Conservatives to vote in favour of an amendment that sought to ensure UK and international law cannot be used to prevent or delay a person being sent to Kigali under the scheme.

Mr Anderson has served since 2019 as MP for Ashfield, one of the previously Labour seats in the so-called red wall where voters switched to the Tories post-Brexit to give Boris Johnson his landslide victory.

He has not yet publicly commented on the backlash to his remarks or his suspension.