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Lee Anderson responds after suspension from Conservative Party over 'Islamophobic' comments

Lee Anderson has said he accepts the Tory party had "no option" but to suspend him over "Islamophobic" comments he made about the mayor of London.

In a post on X after he was suspended on Saturday afternoon, the former Tory deputy chairman said: "Following a call with the chief whip, I understand the difficult position that I have put both he and the prime minister in with regard to my comments.

"I fully accept that they had no option but to suspend the whip in these circumstances.

"However, I will continue to support the government's efforts to call out extremism in all its forms - be that antisemitism or Islamophobia."

Pressure had been mounting on Rishi Sunak to act after the MP for Ashfield said he believed "Islamists" had "got control" of Sadiq Khan, the London mayor.

Announcing his suspension, a spokesman for Simon Hart, the chief whip, said: "Following his refusal to apologise for comments made yesterday, the chief whip has suspended the Conservative whip from Lee Anderson MP."

Mr Anderson prompted an outcry earlier this week when he said on GB News: "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."

Responding on Saturday, Mr Khan accused the prime minister of being "complicit" in racism for failing to condemn Mr Anderson's comments that "pour fuel on the fire of anti-Muslim hatred".

He said the claim was Islamophobic and sent the message that Muslims were "fair game" when it came to racism.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said "it's right" Mr Anderson had been suspended after his "appalling racist and Islamophobic outburst against Sadiq Khan".

In a statement on X, he added: "Rishi Sunak's weakness means Tory MPs act with impunity... The Tories may be getting more and more desperate as the election approaches, but Rishi Sunak has a responsibility to stop this slide into ever more toxic rhetoric."

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'Foolish and dangerous'

After Mr Anderson's suspension, Nigel Farage told Sky News that he should "join Reform UK" - the party of which he is honorary president.

But when asked the same question, Richard Tice, leader of Reform UK, said: "I haven't been in touch with Lee, he hasn't been in touch with me."

Mr Anderson's comments come at a time of heightened community tensions as the Israel-Hamas war rages in Gaza, with concerns over the conduct of pro-Palestinian protesters and fears of violence against MPs.

Some Tories have also spoken out against Mr Anderson's remarks, including former cabinet minister Sir Sajid Javid, who branded them "ridiculous".

Cabinet minister Grant Shapps distanced himself from Mr Anderson's comments but appeared to defend his right to "speak [his] mind".

While business minister Nus Ghani described her Tory colleague's comments as "foolish and dangerous".

Mr Anderson was a deputy chair of the Conservative Party until he resigned his post to vote against Mr Sunak's Rwanda bill.

He later said he wished he could get his job back.

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It is not the first time Mr Anderson has been subject to controversy.

He has been nicknamed "30p Lee" by some critics for previously suggesting that someone could cook themselves meals from scratch for "about 30 pence a day".

Mr Anderson gets £100,000 a year for his GB News show on top of his £86,584 MP salary.