Tory MP Michael Fabricant accused of 'Islamophobia' over Sadiq Khan tweet
Conservative bosses are facing calls to suspend an MP accused of tweeting an Islamophobic image of London mayor Sadiq Khan.
Michael Fabricant posted the cartoon, which features the Labour politician's head on an inflatable pig, as he hit out at anti-Donald Trump protesters.
Mr Khan gave permission for a giant ballon of the US president wearing a nappy to be flown over Westminster on Friday to coincide with his first visit to the UK since entering the White House.
The image tweeted by Mr Fabricant, who is the Tory MP for Lichfield, shows President Trump laughing, with Parliament in the background and two pig balloons in the sky, one of which has Mr Khan's face on it. The caption reads: "Breaking news: Trump defeats Sadiq Khan in balloon wars."
The MP added the comment: "Well, what can I say."
Several Labour MPs lined up to criticise Mr Fabricant.
Afzal Khan, the Labour MP for Manchester Gorton, said: "The Tories have ignored countless calls for an inquiry into Islamophobia in their party from their own members, the former chair of their party and the Muslim Council of Britain. Clearly there's a problem, and if Brandon Lewis's respect pledge meant anything, Michael Fabricant would be suspended immediately."
But Mr Fabricant told PoliticsHome he had no idea Sadiq Khan's face had been superimposed on the inflatable pig before he posted the tweet.
He said: "I did not even see there was a face on the pig. As soon as I saw there was, I deleted it. I did it within two minutes, but my fault was not checking it closer on my iPhone first.
"Having been on TV criticising the blimp, I thought it was just a simple joke on that. I am not Islamaphobic and I liked Sadiq Khan when I knew him as an MP. Moral of the story, don’t examine a picture on a small screen."
The row comes against the backdrop of claims that the Conservatives have an Islamophobia problem.
Last month, former Tory co-chair Sayeeda Warsi said the problem went "all the way up to the top" of the party.
She said: "I don't think it's something that Theresa [May] is a part of, but I do believe it is something the leadership feels can be easily ignored."
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