FORMER Tory party vice chairman Lee Anderson has said he “doesn’t really understand” what Islamophobia means as the row over his attack on Sadiq Khan continues.

The MP, who is now sitting as an independent, sparked fury after claiming “Islamists have got control” of the London mayor, who has “given the city away to his mates”.

He lost the Tory whip over the weekend after failing to apologise over the comments and in a fresh interview on GB News on Monday night he insisted he was standing by what he said.

Anderson said: “I'm a big believer in free speech. I admit some of my speech was a little clumsy at times, but my sentiment is exactly the same.

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“We are losing control of this beautiful city to a tiny minority of extremists, and nobody seems to be doing anything about it. It absolutely makes me sick to the pit of my stomach to see these extremists on our streets in London terrorizing people and what do we say? It’s unacceptable.”

He went on: “I think the argument is because I picked out one specific person i.e. Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London.

“But when I speak about Sadiq Khan and London, they're in the same breath. They are the same person. Sadiq Khan is London. He runs London. He's responsible for everything. He is Mr London.”

Anderson said he was not sorry because “stands by” his words, adding “it's not racist to call out Islamists”.

He went on: "I've got a few [Muslim friends] in Parliament and a few back home. The ones in parliament are not very happy about the remarks. But what I say to them is that my comments weren't racist.

"You can be a white person and be Muslim. You can be Chinese and be a Muslim. You can be an African and be a Muslim. So it's not racist.

“And this Islamophobia, I don't really understand what that means other than you're criticizing what's in the Koran or a religion.”

Senior Conservatives are face mounting pressure to describe Anderson’s attack on Khan as “Islamophobic” as the row over his comments entered its fifth day.

The Prime Minister and others have condemned Anderson’s comments, in which he claimed “Islamists” and “got control” of the Mayor of London, as “wrong” but have so far shied away from calling them “Islamophobic”.

Home Office minister Michael Tomlinson was forced to deny that he and his colleagues had been instructed not to use the word after refusing multiple times to say what had been wrong with Anderson’s comments.

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Facing questions from broadcasters on Tuesday, Tomlinson refused 11 times to explain why he thought Anderson’s comments were “wrong”, with LBC host Nick Ferrari terminating their interview early saying he was “unable to answer a question”.

His Home Office colleague Tom Pursglove also refused to use the term, telling Times Radio: “I don’t think Lee personally is racist but what he said was unacceptable.”

Asked directly in an interview whether it was the case that ministers had been instructed to avoid using the term, he said: “No, it’s not.”

Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats have tabled a so-called censure motion calling on Parliament to rebuke Anderson’s comments and demanding he come to the House and apologise.