Sajid Javid confirms Tory racism probe will not just focus on Islamophobia
Sajid Javid has confirmed that a long-promised Conservative inquiry into Islamophobia will now be broadened out to include "all types of prejudice".
The Chancellor - who made headlines in the Conservative leadership campaign by getting all fellow contenders to sign up to a probe on anti-Muslim abuse in the party - said it now "makes sense" to broaden the inquiry out.
But the comments come amid anger over the Tories' handling of allegations of Islamophobia, with former Conservative co-chair Baroness Warsi accusing a minister of "whitesplaining" racism to her and Labour claiming a "spectacular betrayal" of the original pledge.
During the Tory leadership race, Mr Javid forced his rival candidates to back "an external investigation into the Conservative Party on Islamophobia" after a string of councillors and self-declared Conservative members were suspended over anti-Muslim remarks on social media.
As recently as this week, Cabinet minister Michael Gove told the BBC that the party would "absolutely" hold an "independent inquiry into Islamophobia...before the end of the year".
But Boris Johnson appeared to row back on that commitment in a separate BBC interview days later, saying there would instead be a "general investigation into prejudice of all kinds".
That was confirmed by Mr Javid on Sunday, as he he was pressed by broadcaster Andrew Marr on whether the party would investigate Islamophobia.
"Yes there will be an inquiry into anti-Muslim hatred, absolutely... And it will start this year," he said.
But Mr Javid added: "We will have an inquiry into prejudice and it will absolutely mean looking into anti-Muslim hatred and making sure that our zero tolerance absolute zero tolerance is as effective as it can be, looking to see what other procedures we could have in place.
"But at the same time it also makes sense to look at any other kind of prejudice. It makes absolute sense to look at all types of prejudice in any form because it is all unacceptable."
The Chancellor said he did not "accept" that a general inquiry into prejudice was "very different" from the promised inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative party.
"What I've said during the leadership campaign was that we should have an inquiry," he added.
"And this would be an inquiry into this very important issue but it is also right at the same time that you look at all of the types of prejudice."
Mr Javid's confirmation of a broader inquiry comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock came under fire for appearing to dismiss longstanding complaints about the Conservatives' handling of anti-Muslim abuse from a senior Tory peer.
Baroness Warsi, who co-chaired the party from 2010 to 2012, said the decision not to hold a specific probe into Islamophobia was "disappointing" and "predictable".
But Mr Hancock said: "Well look, I like Sayeeda. She has a particular view on this, there are others who take a more balanced approach."
The Tory Peer shot back on Twitter: "Oh @MattHancock. Thank you for 'whitesplaining' this to me."
And she added: "I’m so glad I have colleagues like you who can educate me even after my 30 years of experience of work in race relations. 'Thousand apologies sir'."
Labour seized on the row over the probe, with Shadow Home Office minister Afzal Khan accusing the Tories of a "spectacular betrayal of Muslim people across our country".
The Labour frontbencher added: "Johnson promised he would hold an independent inquiry into Islamophobia when he stood to become Conservative Party leader.
"But now Johnson has shamelessly decided to drop the probe into Islamophobia in his party."