Rishi Sunak urged to deselect Liz Truss over appearance on 'far-right' platform

Popular Conservatism movement launch
-Credit: (Image: PA Wire/PA Images)


Rishi Sunak has been urged to deselect Liz Truss as a Tory candidate over her appearance on a "far-right" platform founded by a commentator who joked about raping an MP.

The interview with former prime minister Ms Truss is due to be streamed on Wednesday, May 29, on Lotus Eaters, set up by Carl Benjamin.

Jess Phillips, the former shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, has now written to Mr Sunak to criticise the move and stated that Ms Truss is not fit to be a suitable candidate for any 'political party.'

The Labour MP highlighted Mr Benjamin's "despicable views about violence against women" after he told her some years ago he "wouldn't even rape you".

In her letter to the Prime Minister, Ms Phillips wrote: "It is clear that anyone willing to appear on this hateful platform is not suitable to be a candidate for any political party. Even Reform UK deselected one of its candidates after his harmful views and work as a content creator for Lotus Eaters was exposed.

"If you have any decency, you will deselect Liz Truss as Conservative candidate for South West Norfolk. Anything less than this will show how weak you are and how far the Conservative Party has sunk."

The Lotus Eaters website says Ms Truss is appearing on its Tomlinson Talks show to discuss her new book, Ten Years To Save The West.

The Tory MP recorded the interview before the General Election was called and has no relationship with Mr Benjamin, it is understood.

Jess Phillips
Jess Phillips -Credit:Internet Unknown

But campaign group Hope Not Hate said it is "completely irresponsible" for any MP or candidate to share a platform with such "far-right activists" and called for Ms Truss to be suspended from the Tories.

Ms Phillips, MP for Birmingham Yardley, wrote: "Today, former Prime Minister Liz Truss, a Conservative candidate in the upcoming general election, will be interviewed on the far-right platform 'Lotus Eaters', founded by Carl Benjamin, an extreme far-right commentator.

"Benjamin has despicable views about violence against women. When I highlighted the volume of rape threats received by female MPs, including myself, Benjamin responded, 'I wouldn't even rape you', later adding 'There's been an awful lot of talk about whether I would or wouldn't rape Jess Phillips. I suppose with enough pressure I might cave, but let's be honest nobody's got that much beer.'

"The impact men like Benjamin have on politics cannot be understated. Men like Benjamin make female MPs live in fear, while discouraging women from standing in future, weakening our democracy in the process.

"You have a responsibility as leader of your party to uphold high standards among your MPs and candidates, and you have a responsibility as Prime Minister to foster a safe environment for MPs, particularly female MPs who face ever-increasing rates of abuse and threat."

Labour has previously called for Ms Truss to have the Tory whip removed after her attendance at the Conservative Political Action Conference in the US earlier this year.

The former Tory leader later took part in an interview with Steve Bannon, who served as a senior White House aide to former Republican president Donald Trump, and she remained silent as he hailed English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson as a "hero".

Hope Not Hate campaigns director Georgie Laming said: "It is completely irresponsible for any MP or candidate to share a platform with Lotus Eaters and their band of conspiracy theorists and far-right activists.

"This isn't the first time Liz Truss has flirted with the far-right, she must be immediately suspended from the Conservative Party."

Mr Benjamin, who gained a large YouTube following under the name Sargon of Akkad, failed in his bid to get elected to the European Parliament as a Ukip candidate in 2019 following his comments about Ms Phillips.

He launched Lotuseaters.com in 2020.

Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak
Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak -Credit:Getty Images

In a lengthy response, Mr Benjamin accused Ms Phillips of telling "flagrant misinformation and outright lies" about him, saying her claim about "despicable views about violence against women" was based on a "joke" he made.

"I am being attacked and misrepresented by sitting MP Jess Phillips because we, as conservatives, interviewed former Conservative Prime Minister Liz Truss," he wrote on X.

"To call Lotuseaters a 'hateful' platform is to have had no engagement with it...

"We are a popular and mainstream conservative publication, which is well-liked and well-respected by our peers, because of the work we do with them.

"It is natural that a conservative such as Liz Truss would want to speak to us to help facilitate an interesting exchange of ideas and for her to speak directly to the conservative base without fear."

Rishi Sunak told reporters he had never heard of Lotus Eaters when asked about his predecessor's appearance on the platform.

Speaking on a visit to Supacat, a defence company in Devon, he said: "I literally have never heard of this platform or indeed what has happened today, because I have actually spent most of my day doing what you have seen me doing, which is talking to people across Cornwall and Devon about what they are focused on."

Tory chairman Richard Holden told LBC he would raise Ms Truss's appearance on the show with her. He said had never heard of Mr Benjamin and had not known Ms Truss would appear on his show.

Of the comments about Ms Phillips, he said: "I think these comments are unbelievably vile and totally appalling. I'm sure that Liz Truss, the former prime minister, would agree. Why she's appeared, I don't know."

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