Tories urged to ditch candidate over 'disgusting' articles on HIV and Muslims with 'divided loyalties'
4 min read
Labour has urged the Conservatives to ditch an election candidate over a string of "disgusting" articles about Muslims and the spread of the HIV virus.
The party has called on Boris Johnson to intervene to dump Anthony Browne, a former aide to the Tory leader, from running in South Cambridgeshire over the "shocking" comments.
The row centres on a series of articles penned by Mr Browne for The Spectator between 2002 and 2003, as well as his book 'Do We Need Mass Immigration?', which have been brought to light by The Guardian.
In a January 2003 piece, Mr Browne said: “It is not through letting in terrorists that the government’s policy of mass migration - especially from the third world - will claim the most lives.
"It is through letting in too many germs.”
He also called on the then-government to stop "the influx of HIV immigrants" as a more effective way to halt the spread of the virus than promoting contraception.
Similar passages in his book urge Britain to stop treating African aids victims because the country "can no longer ignore the entirely preventable Aids holocaust consuming the continent next door".
He also hit out at Muslim leaders over their objections to the war in Iraq, writing: "Whatever the merits or demerits of war on Iraq, it is hardly a national strength to have a large minority with such divided loyalties during war."
The articles were at the centre of a previous row when Mr Browne became Boris Johnson's policy director as mayor of London.
The then-aide said at the time: "I do very much regret any offence caused by any past newspaper articles. It really never was my intention to cause offence, but to provoke debate. The articles, which I deeply regret writing, also don’t give a fair reflection of my views. I want to make clear that I am emphatically not anti-immigration."
But Labour urged the Tories to junk Mr Browne's candidacy, with shadow equalities minister Naz Shah accusing him of "disgusting racism".
She told The Guardian: "It’s shocking that someone with such despicable views has been selected to stand for the Conservative party.
“Given his personal relationship with Anthony Browne, Boris Johnson should personally intervene and remove him as a candidate."
Former Conservative co-chair Baroness Warsi - who has been sharply critical of the party's handling of Islamophobia within its ranks - also blasted the comments, saying the choice of Mr Browne "perfectly illustrates where we’ve gone wrong as Conservatives".
Ian Sollom, who is standing for the Lib Dems in South Cambridgeshire, said the comments showed how "divisive and extreme" the Conservatives had become.
"They should urgently consider whether Anthony Browne is a suitable candidate to represent their party in light of these remarks," he added.
A Conservative party spokesperson said: "These comments were made over 15 years ago, Anthony Browne has apologised for these comments and sincerely regrets them."
LIB DEM STANDS DOWN
The row came as a Liberal Democrat candidate was forced to step down after being accuses of posting a string of racist and homophobic tweets.
Kevin McNamara, the party's candidate for Thurrock in Essex, said he was "deeply sorry for the comments that I made" as the Liberal Democrats confirmed they were launching a "disciplinary process" into the social media posts.
Screenshots circulating on Twitter appeared to show the candidate using the word "fa**ot", and repeatedly making offensive references to black people.
In a statement, he said: “I am deeply sorry for the comments that I made that are currently being reported in the press.
"These words are deeply offensive and I apologise profusely to everybody that I have offended with these tweets.
"I would never want to undermine the voices of those communities with slurs or degradation and it's important that people who want to represent the public are held to the very highest standard.
"I am resigning as a candidate with immediate effect for the upcoming election. I apologise to all of those I have let down with my past conduct and will work hard to regain their trust."
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