Boris Johnson apologises for 'hurt and offence' caused by Tory Islamophobia as candidate suspended
Boris Johnson has apologised for the “hurt and offence” caused by Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.
The Prime Minister spoke out as the Tories were forced to suspend a general election candidate accused of using anti-Muslim language.
Flora Scarabello had been due to stand for the party in Glasgow Central.
Mr Johnson said his party had a “zero tolerance” approach to discrimination as he reiterated his pledge to launch an inquiry into prejudice in the Tory party.
Asked if he would apologise for anti-Muslim hatred among the Tory ranks, he told ITV: "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."
He added: “We are going to have an independent inquiry into Islamophobia, anti-semitism, every manner of prejudice and discrimination and it will start before Christmas.”
The apology came a day after the Muslim Council of Britain accused the party of “denial, dismissal and deceit” in attempts to tackle Islamophobia.
Meanwhile, the Scottish Conservatives confirmed that they had withdrawn support for Ms Scarabello.
It is understood party bosses had been sent a recording in which she had allegedly made anti-Muslim remarks.
A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said: "We take allegations like this extremely seriously.
"There is no place in the Scottish Conservatives for anti-Muslim language, or any other form of racial or religious discrimination.
"As such, we have immediately suspended the candidate and the complaint will be thoroughly investigated."
Baroness Warsi, a former co-chair of the Conservative Party, said Mr Johnson's comments were "a good start".
She told Radio Four's 'World At One': "I’m pleased that finally we’re starting to get to a point where we can acknowledge the extent of this issue, apologise for the fact we have dragged our feet in dealing with it and then hopefully start an independent investigation into dealing with it.”
Meanwhile, John McDonnell apologised for the way the Labour party had handled cases of anti-semitism - a day after Jeremy Corbyn refused to do so four times.
The Shadow Chancellor said: "We've already apologised and Jeremy has as well."
He said: “I’m really sorry the way we’ve handled it initially because we’ve learnt lessons from it and we’ve also invited people to say if there’s still more lessons to be learnt come and see us.”
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe