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Watch: PM orders inquiry into Nusrat Ghani claim of Islamophobia in ministerial sacking
Boris Johnson has insisted he is taking allegations a Tory MP was sacked over concerns of her faith "very seriously" after launching a Cabinet Office investigation.
Tory MP Nusrat Ghani claimed over the weekend thaat she was sacked as a junior minister because of her 'Muslimness'.
Speaking to The Sunday Times, Ghani said a Government whip told her that her “Muslimness” had been raised as an issue and an MP had said her faith was making others “uncomfortable”.
Speaking on a visit to Milton Keynes University Hospital on Monday, the PM said: “We take these allegations extremely seriously, I took them very seriously when they were raised with me 18 months ago… very glad there’s an investigation taking place now.
“I can’t say more, really, about it.”
Asked if Chief Whip Mark Spencer could stay in post while the investigation was conducted, Mr Johnson dodged the question, saying: “This is something I take personally extremely seriously, I took it very seriously 18 months ago, we must wait and see what the investigation produces.”
Spencer previously identified himself as the whip Ms Ghani had spoken to but denied the substance of the alleged conversation.
Ghani, 49, was born in Kashmir to Pakistani parents and grew up in Birmingham.
The prime minister initially responded to her claims, saying he met her in July 2020 to discuss her allegations.
No. 10 said the PM had "serious concern" over the allegations and he invited her to make a formal complaint, but Ghani chose not to.
A No 10 spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister has asked the Cabinet Office to conduct an inquiry into the allegations made by Nusrat Ghani MP.
“At the time these allegations were first made, the Prime Minister recommended to her that she make a formal complain to CCHQ (Conservative Campaign Headquarters).
“She did not take up this offer.
“The Prime Minister has now asked officials to establish the facts about what happened.
“As he said at the time, the Prime Minister takes these claims very seriously.”
Ghani said she welcomed the PM's decision to order an investigation into her claims.
The Conservative MP for Wealden said: “As I said to the Prime Minister last night, all I want is for this to be taken seriously and for him to investigate.
“I welcome his decision to do that now.
“The terms of reference for the inquiry must include all that was said in Downing Street and by the whip.
“I look forward to seeing the terms of reference.”
Following the allegations, Tory MP Michael Fabricant sparked further controversy after he saif Ghani’s claim of Islamophobia“stinks”.
Watch: Tory MP Michael Fabricant says Nusrat Ghani is not “obviously” a Muslim
Fabricant said the timing of her claim was “very suspicious”, and suggested it was linked to moves to get rid of Johnson over the Downing Street lockdown parties scandal.
He said Ms Ghani was not “obviously” a Muslim, and it was “lame” to claim that was the reason she was fired as a transport minster in a reshuffle in 2020.
Labour described his comments a “shameful” and called for the Conservative whip to be withdrawn.
The latest allegations of Islamophobia come as Johnson faces a make-or-break week to keep his job as Whitehall await Sue Gray's report into widespread reports of lockdown parties in Downing Street.
The PM is said to be determined to hang on to his position believing that he has done nothing wrong.
But depending on what Gray's report finds, he could be left with no choice but to leave Number 10.
The Tories have seen their ratings polls plunge as allegations were made about repeated parties in Downing Street and other government offices as the rest of the nation was under strict lockdown laws.