FORMER Conservative Party chairwoman Baroness Warsi has accused prime minister Theresa May of “burying her head in the sand” over Islamophobia in the party.
Baroness Warsi said the prime minister has failed to “acknowledge” or “tackle” the problem.
“She doesn’t listen, she fails to acknowledge when there is a problem,” she said. “It’s probably symptomatic of the way in which her leadership has dealt with other matters.
“Burying your head in the sand is not going to make problems go away.”
Baroness Warsi said efforts to modernise the party had “gone into reverse” since May took office. However, she ruled out quitting the party.
“If my party’s going though a process of ‘re-UKIPification’ of itself, then it’s my job to stand within that party and fight to bring it back to the centre ground.”
Shortly after she made these comments, the Conservative Party suspended 14 of its members for Islamophobic Facebook posts on a group called the “Jacob Rees-Mogg Supporters Group”.
The page is not affiliated with the MP.
One message on the page said they would like to “turf all Muslims out of public office”. Another said they wanted to “get rid of all mosques”. A third person said they could not vote for home secretary Sajid Javid in any forthcoming leadership race because that would amount to a vote for “Islam to lead this country”.
A Conservative party spokesperson said: “This Facebook group is in no way affiliated with the Conservative Party and many of the people identified on it are not party members.
“However we have identified some people who are party members and they have been immediately suspended, pending further investigation.
“When we find evidence of members making offensive or inappropriate comments, we consistently take decisive action. Discrimination or abuse of any kind is wrong and will not be tolerated.”
Earlier on Tuesday (5), it was reported that Peter Lamb, a council candidate in Harlow, had previously been suspended for comparing Islam to alcoholism in a tweet in 2015.
He apologised earlier this month, saying: “The tweet was aimed at the extremists that have hijacked Islam and are cowardly hiding behind the religion” and that it was not meant to apply to “those who follow the religion peacefully and are contributing to the diversity of the UK”.
On Tuesday, he tweeted: “I have reflected on my comments and decided that I should step down as a local election candidate and resign [from] the Conservative party with immediate effect.”