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The Conservative party’s problem with Islamophobia – podcast

Lee Anderson is no stranger to controversy. While deputy chair of the Conservative party he earned the nickname “30p Lee” after chastising food bank users for not budgeting well enough and claiming that meals could be made for 30 pence each. He’s called for the reinstatement of the death penalty and told the Daily Express that if asylum seekers didn’t like their treatment they could “fuck off back to France”.

So when he popped up on the right-wing GB News channel last week, it was no surprise to anyone that he weighed into the debate about the pro-Palestinian protests in his usual style. But this time he found himself at the centre of a political storm that didn’t blow over. He claimed that “Islamists” had “got control” over London mayor Sadiq Khan. As Archie Bland tells Nosheen Iqbal, his refusal to apologise saw him suspended from the parliamentary party. But when senior Tory colleagues were pressed on exactly why he had been suspended, none would say that Lee’s comments were Islamophobic.

It was this prevarication that both intensified the row and led to Muslim party members such as former MEP Sajaad Karim voicing serious doubts about the direction the party is heading. He explains what it has felt like to be a card-carrying Muslim Tory member for the past week – and why that membership card has now gone in the bin.

Britain's prime minister Rishi Sunak and MP for Ashfield Lee Anderson visit a class at Woodland View primary school in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, England

Photograph: Jacob King/AP

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