LEE Anderson has had the Conservative whip suspended after making a widely criticised claim that London Mayor Sadiq Khan was controlled by “Islamists”.

A spokesperson for the party’s chief whip Simon Hart said the decision had been taken following the former Tory deputy chairman’s “refusal to apologise” for the remarks made on Friday.

Pressure had been mounting on Rishi Sunak to take action over the comments from the Ashfield MP, with Khan saying the “deafening silence” of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet on the matter amounted to condoning racism.

A Conservative source was defending Anderson as recently as Friday evening before he was stripped of party support on Saturday.

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Cabinet minister Grant Shapps distanced himself from the remarks on Saturday morning but stopped short of condemning his fellow MP, arguing that people should be allowed to “speak their mind”.

However, business minister Nus Ghani and senior backbencher Sir Sajid Javid were among other senior Tory figures joining a growing chorus of criticism from across the political divide.

In an appearance on GB News on Friday, Anderson had said: “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.”

A spokesperson for Hart said: “Following his refusal to apologise for comments made yesterday, the chief whip has suspended the Conservative whip from Lee Anderson MP.”

First Minister Humza Yousaf denounced Anderson's comments and said it showed how pervasive Islamophobia had become. 

"Sadiq Khan has more integrity, dignity & intellect in his pinky than a thousand Lee Andersons," he said on X/Twitter. 

"Lee Anderson's comments are an example of how acceptable and pervasive Islamaphobia has become in our society. We all have a responsibility to root it out." 

While SNP MP Hannah Bardell said the party must now consider taking action against Liz Truss after she, too, was accused of spreading conspiracies during an appearance on former Donald Trump advisor Steve Bannon's podcast.

Bardell said: “Lee Anderson's comments are deplorable and dangerous - there is no room Islamaphobia or any discrimination of any kind in our society.

“Unfortunately, for far too long, attitudes and language like this amongst senior Tory politicians has gone unchallenged and it has even been used as cruel political gimmicks. It’s a disgrace.

“It is right that Lee Anderson has been suspended and if the Tories are serious about rooting out these toxic behaviours then they must now consider taking action against others in their party like Liz Truss."