Tory MP Lee Anderson joins right-wing populist get together Reform UK | EUROtoday

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Lee Anderson has joined Nigel Farage‘s Reform UK with a furious attack on the Conservative Party after he was suspended by the Tories for making Islamophobic remarks about London mayor Sadiq Khan.

The former Tory deputy chairman said he had done “a lot of soul searching” but had decided to join Reform in a bid to take “my country back”.

Mr Anderson, the MP for Ashfield in Nottinghamshire, accused the Conservative Party of stifling “free speech” and said he found it “unpalatable” that he had been disciplined for “speaking my mind”.

In a speech, he said his parents, who live in his constituency, had told him they could not vote for him at this year’s election if he didn’t defect to Reform.

He stated: “All I want is my country back. Now this may sound offensive to the liberal elite. But it’s not offensive to my friends or family, my constituents and some of my constituents like my mum and dad, who told me they could not vote for me unless I joined Reform UK.

“My parents are both nearly 80 and they get it, and I must not let them down.”

Lee Anderson has joined Nigel Farage’s Reform UK in a blow for the Conservatives (Victoria Jones/PA)

(PA Wire)

The information was introduced by Reform chief Richard Tice in what was billed as a “major” second for the get together.

Mr Tice, who stated he anticipated “more [defections] to follow”, welcomed Mr Anderson as a “champion” of the Red Wall who “is trusted by voters to tell it as it is”. As lately as January, Mr Anderson branded Mr Tice a “poundshop Nigel Farage” and stated Reform was “not a proper political party”.

Asked what has modified, the MP stated: “There’s not been a turning point. We all know that sometimes politicians are about as trustworthy as journalists in what they say and do.

“But it’s been a gradual journey, and I think there’s been several tipping points over the past few months. And when I find myself suspended for speaking my mind – and, by the way, speaking up on behalf of millions of people up and down the country who agree with me – that for me is unpalatable. It’s a shocker, if I’m honest.”

Mr Anderson will stand on the subsequent basic election for Reform, which was previously generally known as Brexit Party and arrange by Mr Farage. Projections primarily based on present polling present Mr Anderson is on target to lose the seat to Labour’s candidate Rhea Keehn by a major margin.

The transfer will pile recent strain on Rishi Sunak, with the Tories prone to shedding tens of seats on the subsequent election if the rebel populist get together splits the right-wing vote.

Rishi Sunak faces a mounting headache as Reform UK continues to make positive factors on the Tories within the polls

(PA Wire)

Mr Anderson can be massively well-liked with the Tory grassroots and was given a standing ovation at a Conservative fundraiser even after his suspension.

He was suspended by the Conservative Party final month after claiming “Islamists” had “got control” of Mr Khan and London. It means he now sits as an unbiased MP.

Mr Sunak and a collection of ministers refused to say his feedback have been racist, however suspended him for refusing to apologise for the remarks.

In an look on GB News, Mr Anderson doubled down on his remarks and stated: “I don’t actually believe that the Islamists have got control of our country, but what I do believe is they’ve got control of Khan and they’ve got control of London… He’s actually given our capital city away to his mates.”

Sir Keir Starmer stated it was proper that Mr Anderson was suspended from the get together over the “appalling racist and Islamophobic outburst”. The Labour chief additionally challenged Mr Sunak over wider Islamophobia within the Conservative Party.

Speculation Mr Anderson was to affix Reform mounted instantly after his suspension.

Mr Anderson, proper with Mr Sunak, left, misplaced the Tory whip final month after claiming ‘Islamists’ had ‘got control’ of London mayor Sadiq Khan

(Jacob King/PA Wire)

A gathering between Mr Anderson and Mr Tice at a lodge off the M1 solely fuelled expectations he would defect to the get together. He has beforehand claimed to have been provided “a lot of money” to affix the get together arrange by Mr Farage.

Reform is presently polling at round 12 per cent, in contrast with the Conservatives on 24 per cent. Pollsters have repeatedly warned the get together may deprive the Tories of tens of seats by splitting the vote, even when Reform itself fails to ship any MPs to Westminster.

Two February by-elections noticed Reform rating double-digit shares of the vote in what Mr Tice known as a “defining moment” making the get together a “significant force now in British politics”.

Mr Tice and Mr Anderson dominated out holding a by-election after the defection, saying there can be a basic election “within weeks or months”. But in 2020 Mr Anderson backed a invoice that will have seen a recall petition sparked for any MP who voluntarily modifications events.

Senior Tory MP Tobias Ellwood stated Mr Anderson was participating in “Trumpism and populism”. He informed TalkTV his former colleague had not provided any options and was “building on people’s fears, saying ‘the establishment hasn’t got it right’” and never providing any options.

And the Liberal Democrats stated Mr Sunak’s authority “lies in tatters” after the person he appointed deputy Tory chairman defected to a rival get together.

Reform UK chief Richard Tice introduced the defection at a press convention (Joe Giddens/PA)

(PA Wire)

Deputy chief Daisy Cooper stated: “This is a prime minister that cannot govern his own party let alone the country.

“Even now Sunak is too weak to rule out Nigel Farage joining the Conservative Party. It just shows that there is now hardly a cigarette paper between the Conservative Party and Reform.”

Mr Anderson’s defection means he’s in his third political get together in six years and comes simply weeks after he described Mr Tice as a “pound shop Nigel Farage” and “Reform’s answer to Diane Abbott”.

He was beforehand a very long time Labour member and served as a neighborhood councillor for the get together earlier than becoming a member of the Tories in 2018.

Labour’s Ashfield candidate Ms Keehn stated the constituency “deserves so much better than this”, calling for a “fresh start with a Labour government and MP”. She stated: “People are fed up with politicians playing political games just to suit themselves. It’s clear Rishi has lost control of his party.”

A Tory spokesman stated: “Lee himself said he fully accepted that the Chief Whip had no option but to suspend the whip in these circumstances.

“We regret he’s made this decision. Voting for Reform can’t deliver anything apart from a Keir Starmer-led Labour government.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/lee-anderson-reform-uk-tory-richard-tice-b2510569.html