BORIS Johnson has announced he is taking allegations of Islamophobia at the heart of his government “extremely seriously”.

The Prime Minister has ordered a Cabinet Office investigation into Nusrat Ghani’s claim that she was sacked from government in February 2020 due to her “Muslimness”. The former junior minister claimed she was told by a Tory whip that her faith made colleagues “uncomfortable” and that her career would be “destroyed” if she tried to complain.

Chief whip Mark Spencer confirmed he had spoken to her but strongly denied making the alleged comments saying the claims were “completely false” and “defamatory”.

Asked whether Spencer could stay in post while the investigation was conducted, Johnson – who has previously been accused of Islamophobia over comments made in newspaper columns – dodged the question. “This is something I take personally extremely seriously,” he said. “I took it very seriously 18 months ago, we must wait and see what the investigation produces.”

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab commented: "We have absolutely zero tolerance for any discrimination, any Islamophobia, in the Conservative Party."

Yet Ghani’s allegations prompted the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) to condemn "institutional Islamophobia" in the party, with Scottish secretary-general Zara Mohammed saying Tory discrimination “has gone on with impunity for far too long”.

The National: Nusrat Ghani has sparked fresh questions over Islamophobia in the Conservative Party Nusrat Ghani has sparked fresh questions over Islamophobia in the Conservative Party

READ MORE: Muslim Council of Britain demands legal probe into sacking of Tory minister

Both Scottish and UK Conservative parties have been plagued by accusations of Islamophobia over the past decade, with campaigners frustrated in their attempts for comprehensive action.

In 2011, the Conservative Party’s then co-chairman, Baroness Warsi, raised the alarm.

She warned that prejudice towards Muslims had "passed the dinner table test" and become socially acceptable in Britain.

Shockat Patel, a board member of Muslim Engagement and Development, told the Guardian that the fresh allegations show “no lessons have been learned. Islamophobia is still alive and kicking within the Tory party”.

Here’s a closer look at accusations levelled at the party in each of the past five years.


In 2017, the Scottish Conservatives were forced to suspend several candidates for xenophobic and anti-Muslim online outbursts.

The axed candidates included George McIntyre, who said he was “sick to the back teeth” of “whinging” Muslims, adding: “It’s time for our councillors to man up and tell them to sod off”.

Also suspended was Roxana Iancu, who, after the Nice attack that killed 86 people, wrote: “The French brought this on themselves. They supported the Muslims.”

Ken MacBrayne was suspended after sharing extreme right-wing propaganda which said immigration to Europe would lead to “the most bloodthirsty war in human history” with “millions of European women raped or forced to convert to Islam”.

Then Tory leader Ruth Davidson was accused by Humza Yousaf of allowing “her party to become Scotland’s Ukip”.

The National: Humza Yousaf


The issue reared its ugly head again a year later when councillor Stephen Goldsack was expelled from the party over links to the BNP.

The North Lanarkshire representative was pictured holding up the BNP manifesto, and was even listed as “Scottish security adviser” for the party in 2011.

He came under fire after allegedly making derogatory comments about Muslims in a council planning meeting, reportedly saying “we can’t give more access to these people,” before adding: “If it was Church of Scotland, it would be OK.”

The councillor denied he was racist and told The National the phrase “these people” was directed towards individuals, and not Muslims in general.

A party spokesman said at the time: “Cllr Goldsack’s membership of the Scottish Conservative party has been rescinded, an action we took immediately after learning of this past affiliation.”

In August of that year, while serving as a backbench MP, Boris Johnson sparked outrage after comparing Muslim women wearing a burka to "letter boxes" and "bank robbers" in a column for the Daily Telegraph.

The National:

It followed a 2005 column for the Spectator in which he claimed that "to any non-Muslim reader of the Quran, Islamophobia – fear of Islam – seems a natural reaction".


In March 2019, a Guardian report reveals 15 Tory councillors south of the Border had been quickly readmitted to the party shortly after being suspended over Islamophobic or racist content posts. Among the offensive content was a description of Saudis as “sand peasants”.

A Conservative spokesman said: “Discrimination or abuse of any kind is wrong. When CCHQ has been made aware of the small number of such cases we have acted swiftly, suspending members and launching immediate investigations, in sharp contrast to other parties.”

The following month, the Guardian revealed two Conservative candidates for upcoming council elections and a woman honoured with an MBE were among 40 new self-professed Tory members who have shared or endorsed racist and inflammatory Facebook posts, including Islamophobic abuse.

The comments included references to Muslims as “bin bag wearing individuals”, demands for the “cult” of Islam to be outlawed.

A spokesperson denied all the comments could be attributed to party members, adding: “Where we have found evidence of discrimination or abuse, swift action has been taken.”

Later that month, Ghani herself revealed she had been inundated with emails from a Tory activist praising Enoch Powell’s “rivers of blood” speech and questioning whether immigrants should be allowed to stand for Parliament.

The National:


A survey carried out by YouGov for HOPE not hate, published in October 2020, found “there continues to be widespread suspicion, prejudice and hostility towards Muslims amongst Conservative Party members and an almost total denial that the party has an Islamophobia problem”.

Nearly 50% of Tory members interviewed believed Islam to be “a threat to the British way of life”, while almost 60% thought “there are no-go areas in Britain where sharia law dominates and non-Muslims cannot enter”.


In May last year, a long-awaited report by Professor Swaran Singh found two-thirds of reports to the complaints team at Conservative HQ referred to allegations of discrimination against Muslims.

While not finding concrete evidence of institutional racism, the study said comments by Johnson and others "give the impression to many that the party and its leadership are insensitive to Muslim communities".

Singh's 44,000-word report concluded that anti-Muslim sentiment "remains a problem" within the Conservative Party.

The MCB was critical of elements of that report and now says Ghani's account is "the latest example in a string of cases exposed by the Muslim Council of Britain and others".