UK MP Nusrat Ghani told she lost her job because of her ‘Muslimness’
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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing calls for an inquiry after a Tory MP said she was told that she was sacked from her ministerial post because her Muslim faith was “making colleagues uncomfortable”.
Her explosive claim in an interview with The Sunday Times brought immediate condemnation from Conservative MPs and opposition parties alike, with demands for an inquiry.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said there was no place for Islamophobia or any form of racism in the party, and that her allegations must be “investigated properly and racism routed out”.
Nus is very brave to speak out. I was truly appalled to learn of her experience. She shows such strength and integrity supporting others. I am proud to have her as my friend and colleague. We must change things for the better. https://t.co/g0oU2ivZFf— William Wragg MP (@William_Wragg) January 22, 2022
But in a dramatic move, chief whip Mark Spencer said that he was the individual who spoke to Ms 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.”
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.— Mark Spencer (@Mark_Spencer) January 22, 2022
These accusations are completely false and I consider them to be defamatory. I have never used those words attributed to me
The row erupted at the start of a crucial week for Mr Johnson, with Sue Gray, the senior civil servant investigating lockdown parties in Downing Street, expected to deliver her report.
The conduct of the whips’ office has come under intense scrutiny following claims that tactics amounting to blackmail were used to pressurise Tory MPs seeking to oust the Prime Minister.
In her interview, Ms Ghani, the MP for Wealden, said she was shocked when the issue of her background and faith was raised during a meeting in the whips’ office after the mini-reshuffle in February 2020.
“It was like being punched in the stomach. I felt humiliated and powerless,” she told the paper. “I was told that at the reshuffle meeting in Downing Street that ‘Muslimness’ was raised as an ‘issue’, that my ‘Muslim women 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’.
“It was very clear to me that the whips and No 10 were holding me to a higher threshold of loyalty than others because of my background and faith.
“In the following weeks, I was informed that if I persisted in raising this that I would be ostracised by colleagues and my career and reputation would be destroyed.”
Solidarity with @Nus_Ghani✊🏽— Sayeeda Warsi (@SayeedaWarsi) January 22, 2022
Calling out your own , calling out racism & taking a principled stance is brave & bold but never easy.
Nus has a long & proud history of fighting antisemitism & she has bravely fought for the rights of #Uyghurs
On #Islamophobia now she must be heard https://t.co/iYpEklKOCk
Mr Zahawi said it was essential that Ms Ghani’s claims were now properly addressed by the party. “There is no place for Islamophobia or any form of racism in our Conservative Party,” he tweeted.
“Nus Ghani is a friend, a colleague and a brilliant parliamentarian. This has to be investigated properly and racism routed out. #standwithNus.”
The senior Tory who first raised the issue of the conduct of the whips office, William Wragg – the chairman of the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee – also voiced his support for Ms Ghani.
“Nus is very brave to speak out. I was truly appalled to learn of her experience. She shows such strength and integrity supporting others,” he tweeted.
The senior Tory who first raised the allegation, William Wragg – the chair of the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee – praised Ghani’s courage in speaking out. “Nus is very brave to speak out,” he tweeted. “I was truly appalled to learn of her experience. She shows such strength and integrity supporting others.”