A Tory MP claims she was sacked from her ministerial post because her Muslim faith was “making colleagues uncomfortable”.
Nusrat Ghani said when she lost her job as a transport minister in 2020 - a government whip told her “Muslimness” had been raised as an issue at a Downing Street meeting to discuss the reshuffle.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said there was no place for Islamophobia or any form of racism in the party, and that her allegations must be “investigated properly and racism routed out”.
In a dramatic move, chief whip Mark Spencer said that he was the individual who spoke to Ms Ghani – although he strongly denied using the words claimed.
So who is Nusrat Ghani - and what did she say in her interview?
Who is Nusrat Ghani?
Ms Ghani, 49, was born in Kashmir to Pakistani parents and grew up in Birmingham.
She worked in an investment bank, charities and the BBC World Service before entering politics - and is married with one child.
Ms Ghani stood in the 2010 general election for the seat of Birmingham Ladywood and lost, but was elected as Wealdon MP in 2015. She was the first female to win the seat and the first Muslim woman elected as a Tory MP.
In 2015, Ms Ghani was appointed a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee and was a Brexiteer.
Ms Ghani was appointed assistant whip and transport minister in 2018 under Theresa May and was the first female Muslim to speak from the Commons dispatch box.
In 2020, when Ms Ghani was removed from the role, she was replaced by Kelly Tolhurst.
Ms Ghani has said that she was surprised at the demotion, and the shuffle was reported in that light given she had been tipped to oversee the High Speed Two.
Now, Ms Ghani is a steering committee member of the backbench Covid Recovery Group who opposed the December 2020 lockdown and have voted against other Covid restrictions.
What did she say in her interview?
Nusrat Ghani has made headlines today (23 January) by claiming that she was demoted from the position of transport minister in 2020 due to her Muslim faith.
Chief whip Mark Spencer later identified himself as the whip Ms Ghani had spoken to but denied the substance of the alleged conversation.
“To ensure other Whips are not drawn into this matter, I am identifying myself as the person Nusrat Ghani MP has made claims about this evening,” he said in a statement posted on Twitter.
“These accusations are completely false and I consider them to be defamatory. I have never used those words attributed to me.”
Speaking to The Sunday Times, Ms Nusrat said a government whip told her that her “Muslimness” had been raised as an issue and an MP had said her faith was making others “uncomfortable”.
She added that “I will not pretend that this hasn’t shaken my faith in the party” and has raised doubts over continuing whether she wanted to be an MP.
It comes after MP William Wragg, one of seven Tory MPs to have called publicly for the Prime Minister to resign, stunned Westminster with his allegations this week of a campaign of intimidation by No 10 amounting to criminal conduct.
He said Conservative MPs trying to trigger a no confidence vote in Mr Johnson had been told public funding for projects in their constituencies would be cut off and threatened with stories in the press to embarrass them.
Ministers have sought to dismiss the allegations, insisting the whips had no role in the allocation of public funding.
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