General election 2019: PM apologises for Islamophobia in Tory party
Boris Johnson has apologised for the “hurt and offence” that has been caused by Islamophobia in the Tory Party.
The PM said an inquiry into “every manner of prejudice and discrimination” in his party would begin by Christmas.
Ex-party chairwoman Baroness Warsi, who has been calling for an inquiry, said the apology was “a good start”.
It comes after Jeremy Corbyn was criticised for repeatedly declining to apologise for how Labour deals with anti-Semitism claims.
Meanwhile, the Conservative Party has suspended their candidate in Glasgow Central, Flora Scarabello, over “alleged use of anti-Muslim language”
“There is no place in the Scottish Conservatives for anti-Muslim language, or any other form of racial or religious discrimination,” a party spokesman said.
Speaking on a campaigning visit in Cornwall, the prime minister was asked if he would apologise for the Islamophobia that has taken place in his party.
Mr Johnson replied: “Of course, and for all the hurt and offence that has been caused – of course we do.
“And all that is intolerable and it’s so important as a country that we don’t allow that kind of thing and that’s why we’re going to have the independent inquiry.
“We are going to have an independent inquiry into Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, every manner of prejudice and discrimination and it will start before Christmas.”
Former Conservative Party chairwoman Baroness Warsi told BBC Radio 4’s The World At One that the Tories were “finally starting to get to a point where we can acknowledge the extent of this issue” and “hopefully we can get on with an inquiry”.
She said the party “dragging and screaming” had “finally started to arrive at a place where they have started to acknowledged the issue”.
She said she did not believe Mr Johnson was an Islamophobe but said: “I do believe there is a space of privilege in which he exists where he feels sadly there are no consequences to the words he uses – even when those words are crass and racist.”
It comes after a Tory parliamentary candidate earlier called on the PM to apologise for his comments about Muslim women.
Parvez Akhtar, a candidate in Luton South, said there was “blatant discrimination” in the party toward individuals and in the policy agenda.
The Muslim Council of Britain also accused the Tories of failing to tackle Islamophobia within its ranks.
‘Gripped by anxiety’
Meanwhile, Labour leader Mr Corbyn has been criticised for declining to apologise to the UK Jewish community after the chief rabbi criticised how the party deals with anti-Semitism claims.
In a BBC interview with Andrew Neil on Tuesday, the Labour leader was asked four times whether he would like to apologise.
Mr Corbyn said his government will protect “every community against the abuse they receive”.
Ahead of the interview, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis had said “the overwhelming majority of British Jews are gripped by anxiety” at the prospect of a Labour victory in 12 December’s general election.
“A new poison – sanctioned from the very top – has taken root in the party,” he said.
In response to his comments, a spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain said on Tuesday it was “abundantly clear to many Muslims that the Conservative Party tolerates Islamophobia” and “allows it to fester in society”.