Tory MP Paul Scully criticised for claiming London and Birmingham have 'no-go' Muslim areas

A Conservative former minister has been criticised for claiming there are "no-go areas" in parts of London and Birmingham where Muslim people live.

Paul Scully, who served as minister for London until the last reshuffle, made the comments during an interview with BBC Radio London, in which he said some people were "concerned about, more and more, their neighbourhoods changing".

He also said Lee Anderson, who was suspended from the Tory party after refusing to apologise for claiming "Islamists" had achieved "control" over London, was "trying to reflect that in a really clumsy way".

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After appealing for "a sensible use of language so we have a constructive adult debate", Mr Scully added: "If you were just looking at the colour of skin and, for example, when a number of Indians were coming in the 70s - my father is half-Burmese, so I've seen it first hand - and if it is about the colour of skin, that's one thing...

"The point I am trying to make is if you look at parts of Tower Hamlets, for example, there are no-go areas.

"Parts of Birmingham, Sparkhill, where there are no-go areas, mainly because of doctrine, mainly because of people using, abusing in many ways, their religion because it is not the doctrine of Islam, to espouse what some of these people are saying.

"That, I think, is the concern that needs to be addressed."

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The Conservative West Midlands mayor Andy Street posted on X that it was "news to me and I suspect the good people of Sparkhill" to claim there were "no-go areas."

He added: "It really is time for those in Westminster to stop the nonsense slurs and experience the real world. I for one am proud to lead the most diverse place in Britain."

A spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain, Miqdaad Versi, also posted that the phrase "no-go area" was a "typical false and Islamophobic trope from the white supremacist and far-right fringes".

TV presenter and actor Adil Ray added: "Sparkhill is home to many communities and cultures, perhaps it's your own prejudice that keeps you away. This is racism. Call it out. Enough."

Conservative peer Baroness Warsi, who was the first Muslim woman to serve in cabinet, said Mr Scully was a "sensible member" of her party and she hoped it was "just an ill-thought, ill-judged comment".

But pointing to Mr Street's response, she told Sky News: "These colleagues need to come and live in the real world.

"Maybe they just need to leave their constituencies and go up and see the rest of the country, understand the rest of the country - where there are no 'no go areas' and it's not full of lots of rabid racists who want us to behave like rabid racists so that they can vote for us.

"Britain is better than that. My party needs to be better than that."

Downing Street said Rishi Sunak did not agree with Mr Scully's comments.

Asked if the prime minister believed there were "no-go" areas in Birmingham, his spokesman said: "No, and the PM has talked before about the value of the very diverse communities and societies that we have in the UK."

Sky News has not had a response from My Scully, but he has posted on X to say: "As someone who has stood up and indeed championed British Muslims for a decade to end up as seen as espousing division and likened to Katie Hopkins, I'll bow out of the conversation and leave the two sides to argue.

"I've always said language matters. So does perception and if moderates are pushed to one side or another, nothing will be resolved. I'm out."