U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered a Cabinet Office inquiry into allegations made by Conservative MP Nus Ghani that she was told her Muslim faith made colleagues “uncomfortable” after being fired from a ministerial job, POLITICO’s London Playbook reported Monday.
The Sunday Times had earlier reported Ghani’s account of a meeting with government whips following her sacking as a transport minister in the February 2020 mini-reshuffle, where she alleged she was told by an unnamed whip that her “Muslimness” had been raised as an “issue” and that her status as a “Muslim woman minister” was making Conservative colleagues uncomfortable. “It was like being punched in the stomach. I felt humiliated and powerless,” Ghani said.
While Ghani didn’t name the person who she said made the comments, Mark Spencer, the Tory chief whip, identified himself as the target of the accusation while issuing a denial.
“These accusations are completely false and I consider them to be defamatory. I have never used those words attributed to me,” he said on Twitter.
“I work with both colleagues and I think it’s important that someone like a Cabinet Office senior civil servant should look at this properly, because the chief whip has also categorically denied it,” Secretary of State for Education Nadhim Zahawi said on Sky News Monday morning.
Johnson met with Ghani to discuss her allegations in July 2020 and urged her to make a formal complaint to the Conservative Party, the government said in a statement on Sunday. But in response, Ghani said she believed it was a “government matter” that should not be handled by an internal party procedure.
Ghani’s claims come amid multiple allegations of bullying or blackmail against whips for Johnson’s government, as it awaits the release of the Sue Gray report into parties in Downing Street during COVID lockdown.
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