A former Tory cabinet minister has accused the Conservative Party of “institutional” Islamophobia on the same day it suspended 14 members over comments posted on a Facebook group.
Party officials took the action after identifying the Conservative members on the Facebook group titled “Jacob Rees-Mogg: Supporters’ Group”.
Comments posted by those purporting to be Tory members have been highlighted by the Twitter account @MatesJacob and were first reported by website BuzzFeed News.
They included a call to “turf all Muslims out of public office”; a demand to “send them home now” in reference to Muslims; a suggestion Muslims are “here to destroy us”; and a claim that “all followers of the Muslim faith” should be made to wear a burqa – including former Tory party chair Baroness Warsi and Labour MP Naz Shah.
Another comment from someone claiming to be Conservative member described Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who is of Pakistani heritage, as a “Trojan horse”.
The people who have been suspended have not been named.
A Conservative Party spokesperson: “This Facebook group is in no way affiliated with the Conservative Party and many of the people identified on it are not party members.
“However we have identified some people who are party members and they have been immediately suspended, pending further investigation.
“When we find evidence of members making offensive or inappropriate comments, we consistently take decisive action.
“Discrimination or abuse of any kind is wrong and will not be tolerated.”
The Tories were caught up in another Islamophobia row on Tuesday when an activist due to stand as a Conservative candidate in May’s local elections quit the party.
The PoliticsHome website reported Peter Lamb had previously been suspended by his local Conservative association after social media comments he made about Muslims were revealed.
In 2015, Mr Lamb was said to have tweeted: “Islam like alcoholism. The first step to recovery is admit you have a problem.”
In a further post the same year, he reportedly said: “Turkey buys oil from ISIS. Muslims sticking together.”
He is claimed to have added: “Do they want us to call ISIS Daesh now so that we don’t associate them with Islam?”
After serving his suspension, Mr Lamb was selected as a candidate in Harlow, Essex, for this year’s local elections.
He has now resigned and will not be standing in the local elections.
Mr Lamb said: “I deeply regret my remarks on social media. At no point did I intend to cause any offence to the Muslim community.
“I have reflected on my comments and decided that I should step down as a local election candidate and resign [from] the Conservative Party with immediate effect.”
A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “Mr Lamb was investigated and suspended by his local association back in 2017.
“He has subsequently resigned from the party. Discrimination or abuse of any kind is wrong and will not be tolerated.
“When CCHQ have been made aware of cases we have acted swiftly and decisively, suspending or expelling those involved and launching an immediate investigation under our party’s code of conduct.”
Baroness Warsi, who served as a cabinet minister in David Cameron’s coalition government, posted on Twitter: “The party continued to support him and felt him an appropriate candidate to represent us.
“And that is why the problem is not just individuals, it’s institutional.”
She later told the BBC: “We have a deep-rooted problem of anti-Muslim comments, Islamophobic comments, racist comments that are being made right from the top – from MPs through to councillors, council candidates, members, linked groups.”
Baroness Warsi has previously called for an internal inquiry into allegations of Islamophobia within the Conservative Party.
“I think it’s now gone beyond that and we need an independent inquiry,” she added.