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Tory Islamophobia row: Hancock accused of trying to isolate Warsi

The Guardian logo The Guardian 3 days ago Damien Gayle

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Watch: Matt Hancock says Sayeeda Warsi 'takes a particular view' on Islamophobia (Independent)

Matt Hancock has said Sayeeda Warsi, the Muslim peer who is calling for an inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative party, has a “particular view” and that “there are others who take a more balanced approach”.

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The health secretary made his comments on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 on Saturday morning as he was asked about Boris Johnson’s decision not to hold an inquiry two days after another senior Tory, Michael Gove, promised one before Christmas.

Matthew Hancock wearing a suit and tie: Matt Hancock: ‘I have an enormous amount of respect for Sayeeda but she does take a particular view.’ © EPA Matt Hancock: ‘I have an enormous amount of respect for Sayeeda but she does take a particular view.’ Challenged on Lady Warsi’s strident criticism of her own party’s record on discrimination against Muslims, Hancock said: “Well look, I like Sayeeda. She has a particular view on this, there are others who take a more balanced approach.”

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Asked if he was saying she was “unbalanced”, Hancock replied: “No, I’m certainly not saying that. I have an enormous amount of respect for Sayeeda but she does take a particular view.”

A former minister and Tory party chair, Warsi has been a vocal critic of the party’s approach on tackling cases of Islamophobia. On Friday, after Johnson confirmed there would be no inquiry into Islamphobia before Christmas, she wrote on Twitter: “Yes disappointing. Yes predictable. Yes it’s true my party don’t give a — about racism within our own ranks. We are only anti-racist to score political points. Do as we say not as we do.”

Conservative peer Baroness Sayeeda Warsi © Getty Conservative peer Baroness Sayeeda Warsi

Responding on Twitter to Hancock’s comments, Miqdaad Versi, the director of the media monitoring team for the Muslim Council of Britain, said Hancock was trying to pretend Warsi was isolated in her criticism.

© Reuters

“The reality is that evidence of the scale of Islamophobia in the party is huge albeit under-reported and deniers of its scale should be challenged with the truth,” he tweeted.

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