Boris Johnson is facing calls to launch an independent inquiry into Islamophobia in the Tory party after the former minister Nusrat Ghani claimed she was told her “Muslimness ” made “colleagues uncomfortable”.
The prime minister was pulled into the controversy at the weekend as he await ed the findings of the investigation into lockdown-busting parties in Downing Street. N o 10 conceded yesterday that Ghani had raised her concerns personally with Johnson at a meeting in 2020 – and that he had encouraged her to launch a formal complaint with the party. A N o 10 spokesperson said: “The Conservative party does not tolerate prejudice or discrimination of any kind.”
Ghani hit back, however, pointing out that she had made clear at the time that she did not think the party complaints process was the right way to tackle her allegations.
“He [Johnson] wrote to me that he could not get involved, and suggested I use the internal Conservative party complaint process. This, as I had already pointed out, was very clearly not appropriate for something that happened on government business.”
She added: “All I have ever wanted was for his government to take this seriously, investigate properly and ensure no other colleague has to endure this.”
Ghani says that when she was sacked as a junior transport minister in a reshuffle in 2020, Tory whips told her that her “Muslim woman minister status was making colleagues feel uncomfortable”. She told the Sunday Times: “It was like being punched in the stomach. I felt humiliated and powerless.” She has received public support from the cabinet ministers Nadhim Zahawi and Sajid Javid.
Zahawi, the education secretary, called Ghani “a friend, a colleague & a brilliant parliamentarian”, adding: “This has to be investigated properly & racism routed out.”
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