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Boris Johnson Orders Inquiry Into Nusrat Ghani’s “Muslimness” Sacking Allegations

Boris Johnson Orders Inquiry Into Nusrat Ghani’s “Muslimness” Sacking Allegations

(Alamy)

3 min read

The Prime Minister has ordered an inquiry into claims by Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani that she was sacked as a minister after being told by a senior member of government that her “Muslimness” was “making colleagues uncomfortable”.

Downing Street had originally invited Ghani to pursue a formal complaint herself, which she said was not an appropriate response to the severity of allegation, and urged Johnson to take the issue more seriously

A Downing Street spokesperson has now confirmed that Johnson had “asked the Cabinet Office to conduct an inquiry into the allegations”. 

“At the time these allegations were first made, the prime minister recommended to her that she make a formal complaint to CCHQ. She did not take up this offer,” the spokesperson said on Monday morning. 

“The Prime Minister has now asked officials to establish the facts about what happened. As he said at the time, the prime minister takes these claims very seriously.”

Ghani said she welcomed the announcement, but added that she “looked forward to seeing the terms of reference” for the inquiry.

“The terms of reference for the inquiry must include all that was said in Downing Street and by the Whips,” she said in a statement.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, Ghani said that she was told, following her sacking as a transport minister during a reshuffle in 2020, that her “Muslimness” had been raised as a problem by officials.

“It was like being punched in the stomach,” she said. 

“I felt humiliated and powerless. 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.”

She confirmed in a subsequent statement that she had discussed the matter with Boris Johnson shortly after, and had urged him to “take it seriously”.

“He wrote to me that he could not get involved and suggested I use the internal Conservative Party complaint process,” Ghani said on Sunday.

“This, as I had already pointed out, was very clearly not appropriate for something that happened on Government business — I do not even know if the words that were conveyed to be about what was said in reshuffle meetings at Downing Street were by members of the Conservative Party.”

Conservative chief whip Mark Spencer identified himself as being the individual accused of the claims, but insisted they were false and that he considered them "defamatory".

Justice secretary Dominic Raab said on Sunday that the allegations were “incredibly serious”, but added that there would not be an investigation into the matter. 

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi publicly called for an inquiry. “There is no place for Islamophobia or any form of racism in our Conservative Party," he wrote on Twitter.

“Nus Ghani is a friend, a colleague and a brilliant parliamentarian. This has to be investigated properly and racism rooted out.”

Speaking to Sky News on Monday, Zahawi defended the Prime Minister’s record on Islamophobia, and said that Johnson had taken the matter “very seriously”.

“This was also the Prime Minister that has promoted Nadhim Zahawi to secretary of state for education, Sajid Javid to health secretary, Priti Patel to home secretary, Rishi Sunak, Kwasi Kwarteng," he said.

“The important thing to remember is this is a Prime Minister, in my view, who doesn't look at your background, your religion or anything else. 

“He looks at your ability and whether you are capable of doing a job and then actually makes that decision.”

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