Tory Islamophobia report a ‘whitewash’, say Muslims in party

A long-awaited review into Islamophobia within the Conservatives has been condemned as a whitewash by Muslim Tories despite it including criticism of the language used by Boris Johnson and the mayoral campaign run by Zac Goldsmith for insensitivity.

Former Conservative chair Baroness Warsi says a report into Tory Islamophobia shows the party is “institutionally racist” – despite the findings saying otherwise.

Baroness Warsi told Sky News political editor Beth Rigby in an exclusive interview: “I think the findings of this report show clearly that the Conservative Party is institutionally racist, that’s based upon the definition of what is institutional racism.

Baroness Warsi, who campaigned for six years against Islamophobia in her party, said the independent report found examples of racism in the party’s processes, attitudes and behaviour, which “satisfies the definition of institutional racism”.

She also said while some of the recommendations “are good and should be implemented…I think we now need an independent Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) investigation because there are flaws to this report” – and said she will be referring the party to the commission.

People who made complaints about Islamophobic behaviour have called her to say they were not given the opportunity to give evidence, she added.

Baroness Warsi also said she thinks Boris Johnson “accepts he is part of the problem and that he got it wrong in the past” and although his apology over comments about women in burqas was “mealy-mouthed”, she said “we can move on from that”.

Sajjad Karim, who was a Tory MEP for 12 years and chaired the European parliament’s working group on Islamophobia, said the report had failed to identify endemic party prejudice aimed at Muslims.

The inquiry was carried out by Professor Swaran Singh, a former equality and human rights commissioner, who found “anti-Muslim sentiment remains a problem within the party” but there is “no evidence” the party is institutionally racist.

Prof Singh examined 1,418 complaints relating to 727 separate incidents between 2015 and 2020, culminating in a 44,000-word report published on Tuesday.

He found two-thirds of all reported complaints to the Tories’ headquarters related to allegations of anti-Muslim discrimination.

The complaints included comments made by the prime minister about women in burqas when he was a journalist and Lord Goldsmith’s London mayoral campaign linking opponent Sadiq Khan to Islamic extremists.