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By Lord Watson of Wyre Forest
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Tories finally suspend candidate who claimed British Jews were returning from Israel 'brainwashed'

2 min read

The Conservatives have finally suspended a candidate who claimed British Jews visiting Israel were returning to the UK as “brainwashed extremists”.

Party bosses said they had also withdrawn election support from Amjad Bashir, who is standing in Leeds North East.

Tory chiefs had initially seemed to be satisfied after Mr Bashir issued an "unreserved" apology and offered to hold talks with Jewish groups.

But in a statement on Wednesday morning, a Conservative spokesman said: “Mr. Bashir has been suspended from the party pending investigation and election support has been withdrawn."

It has also emerged that Dan Cohen, Mr Bashir's election agent, had told Conservative HQ that he would not continue to campaign for him.

The former Ukip MEP - who defected to the Tories in 2015 - made his comments during a European Parliament debate the year before.

He said: "Young men are going over from England where I come from - people of the Jewish faith who my grandchildren have grown up with as decent young men.

 "But have come back as extremists - as people that are brainwashed. They will not listen to reason. There is something very peculiar and wrong going on in Israel."

When his comments re-emerged, he said: "I want to make unambiguously clear that these are not views I hold now. I apologise unreservedly for the comments I made and the distress they have caused within the Jewish community and other groups,” he said.

“I am ready to meet with the Board of Deputies of British Jews at their earliest possible convenience so they can hear from me directly. I also intend to meet with local Jewish community groups in Leeds North East. 

“I recognise I owe them an apology in person.”

The decision to suspend him means the Conservatives no longer have a candidate in the seat, which has been held by Labour’s Fabian Hamilton since 1997.

He said: "Anybody that holds such offensive views is not fit to hold public office, whatever party they represent.

"Amjad Bashir has insulted the entire Jewish community in North East Leeds with his clearly anti-semitic remarks and I share the community’s anger. I am absolutely appalled."

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