British Tory MP Nusrat Ghani says she was sacked as minister because of her ‘Muslimness’

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Nusrat Ghani

Gulf Today Report

A Conservative MP claimed she was told her Muslim faith was “making colleagues feel uncomfortable” after asking why she was sacked as a minister.

Nusrat Ghani, who lost her government job in 2020, told The Sunday Times she had asked a party whip about the decision and was told her religion was discussed at a Downing Street meeting.

The former transport minister also said she was told there were concerns she was not doing enough to defend the Tories against allegations of Islamophobia.


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Her remarks brought immediate condemnation from Ghani’s colleagues in the Conservative Party and have also led to calls for an investigation from cabinet minister Nadhim Zahawi.

It comes as the conduct of whips is under intense scrutiny over accusations of intimidation and blackmail against MPs resisting Boris Johnson’s leadership.

Boris-Johnson
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives for a meeting. File photo

Earlier this week, a Tory MP claimed colleagues were receiving threats to “withdraw investments”, while an MP who defected to Labour claimed plans for a new school in his constituency had been threatened if he voted against the government.

Ghani said she spoke to party whips after losing her ministerial role in February 2020 and “asked what the thinking was behind the decision to fire me and what the mood music was when my name was mentioned in No 10 concerning the reshuffle.”

She said: “I was told that at the reshuffle meeting in Downing Street that ‘Muslimness’ was raised as an ‘issue’, that my ‘Muslim woman minister’ status was making colleagues uncomfortable and that there were concerns ‘that I wasn’t loyal to the party as I didn’t do enough to defend the party against Islamophobia allegations’.”

She told the newspaper it was like “being punched in the stomach” and made her feel “humiliated and powerless”.

The situation escalated further on Saturday evening, when chief whip Mark Spencer said that he was the individual who spoke to Ghani, although he strongly denied using the words claimed.

“To ensure other Whips are not drawn into this matter, I am identifying myself as the person Nusrat Ghani, MP, has made claims about this evening,” he said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“These accusations are completely false and I consider them to be defamatory. I have never used those words attributed to me.”

Anneliese Dodds, the chair of the Labour party, said the claims were “extremely serious” and called for an urgent investigation into what happened.

“This is just the latest allegation in a long list of appalling behaviour at the centre of government that the prime minister appears willing to overlook,” she said.

William Wragg, the Tory MP who accused ministers of threatening colleagues considering trying to oust Boris Johnson earlier this week, called Ghani “very brave to speak out”.

Meanwhile, Tory minister Nadhim Zahawi said there was “no place for Islamaphobia or any form of racism” in the Conservative party after his colleague’s allegations. “This has to be investigated properly and racism routed out,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Tory whips’ office called Ghani’s allegations “categorically untrue”.

“Ministerial roles are appointed on merit and rewards for hard work,” they said. “The Conservative party does not tolerate any form of racism or discrimination.”

Earlier this year, a report on Islamophobia in the Conservative party rejected claims of institutional racism.

Ghani’s claim should be properly investigated if she makes a formal complaint, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said on Sunday, according to Reuters.

“We have absolutely zero tolerance for any discrimination, and any Islamophobia, in the Conservative Party,” Raab told Sky News on Sunday. “A claim like this, as serious as it is, should be properly reported, and then a proper investigation (should take place).”

 

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