Lee Anderson ducks questions on whether he will join Reform following Tory party suspension


Lee Anderson has dodged questions over whether he could join the Reform party following his suspension from the Conservatives for his attack on Sadiq Khan.

Mr Anderson, the now independent MP for Ashfield, was asked whether he would join the rival party led by Richard Tice but refused to answer.

Instead, all he said to reporters was: “What are you waiting here for?”

Mr Anderson was suspended by Rishi Sunak last weekend after he refused to apologise for claiming in an interview with GB News that “Islamists” had “control” over London and its mayor, Sadiq Khan.

The remarks have been widely condemned from across the political divide, and this morning Home Secretary James Cleverly told the Times that Mr Anderson should apologise directly to Mr Khan for his comments.

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Mr Anderson’s suspension has prompted questions about his future and whether he may join Reform, the party founded by Nigel Farage as an alternative for disaffected Tory voters that is now led by Mr Tice.

In an interview with GB News on Monday night, Mr Anderson did not rule out joining Reform.

“You’ll say Lee Anderson rules out/doesn’t rule out joining the Reform party, so I’m making no comment on my future,” he said on GB News, where he is a paid contributor.

Asked if he would be the Conservative candidate for his seat of Ashfield at the next election, Mr Anderson said: “That’s not up to me”.

However, he said he would still be standing at the next election.

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PM: Anderson comments ‘ill-judged’

In his original interview with GB News last week, Mr Anderson told the channel: “I don’t actually believe that the Islamists have got control of our country, but what I do believe is they’ve got control of Khan and they’ve got control of London.

“He’s actually given our capital city away to his mates.”

In a separate statement published by GB News on Monday, Mr Anderson admitted his words were “clumsy” but that they were “borne out of sheer frustration at what is happening to our beautiful capital city”.

However, he doubled down on his refusal to apologise, saying: “If you are wrong, apologising is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength.

“But when you think you are right you should never apologise because to do so would be a sign of weakness.”

Rishi Sunak broke his silence to condemn Mr Anderson’s words against Mr Khan on Monday, calling them unacceptable and “wrong”.

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Khan: ‘Comments are Islamophobic’

The prime minister also rejected suggestions his party had “Islamophobic” tendencies in light of criticism from his own side, including from Tory peer Baroness Warsi who claimed a new generation of Conservatives were “dragging this great party… into the gutter”.

Baroness Warsi said that “not only is there a hierarchy of racism” in the Tory Party today, “anti-Muslim racism is being used as an electoral campaign tool” and that Muslims “don’t matter” and were considered “fair game”.

Speaking to Speaking on BBC Radio York, the prime minister denied the Tory party has “Islamophobic tendencies” and said: “Lee’s comments weren’t acceptable, they were wrong. That’s why he’s had the whip suspended.”

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He added: “Words matter, especially in the current environment where tensions are running high. I think it’s incumbent on all of us to choose them carefully.”

However, the prime minister repeatedly refused to call Mr Anderson’s remarks Islamophobic while other ministers have refused to say whether the comments were racist.

Last November Mr Tice denied reports that Mr Anderson was offered money to defect to his party, telling Sky News “no money or cash has been offered to any Tory MP whatsoever”.

Earlier this month Mr Farage, who is now an honorary president at Reform, said he believed it was possible to replace the Conservatives with Reform as he predicted an “extinction event” for the government at the next election.