THE former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party has defected to Reform UK following a row over Islamophobia. 

Lee Anderson, the MP for Ashfield, was suspended by the Tories after he refused to apologise for saying that Mayor of London Sadiq Khan was controlled by Islamists.

During an appearance on GB News last month, Anderson 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.”

Anderson was suspended after several senior figures in the Conservative Party condemned the comments and the Muslim Council of Britain criticised the “silence of the party in the face of such extremism”.

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During a press conference held by Reform UK on Monday morning party leader Richard Tice announced that Anderson had joined the party following reports by The Telegraph and GB News. 

The switch to Reform UK, which comes after weeks of speculation about a possible defection by Anderson, gives the party its first MP.

Tice took aim at “mass immigration”, “gender ideology” and an “obsession with net zero” before announcing that Anderson had joined the party.

He said that Reform UK wanted to replace the Tories as the main opposition to “Starmergeddon”.

After the announcement Anderson took the stage to make a short speech. 

"I want my country back," he said. 

"Over the past year or so I've had to do a lot of soul searching on my political journey and I don't expect much in politics other than being able to speak my mind and speak on behalf of my friends, family and constituents. 

"Now, I might not know a lot of these long words some of the people use in parliament but I know a few short ones. 

"Unfortunately, this leads me to be labelled controversial, controversial in my opinions. 

"But my opinions are not controversial. They are opinions which are shared by millions of people up and down the country. 

"It's not controversial to be concerned about illegal immigration. It's not controversial to be concerned about legal migration. 

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"It's not controversial to be worried, concerned, by the Metropolitan Police, a failing London Mayor, and the hate marches, the street crime and the shoplifters literally getting away with ruining businesses on a daily basis.

"It's not controversial to fight back in a culture war." 

He added that he felt the country was being "given away". 

"We are allowing people to erase our history, we are giving up our streets to a minority of people who literally hate our way of life," he said. 

"We are allowing people into our country that will never integrate and adopt our British values." 

He insisted he would not apologise for the comments he made about Sadiq Khan. 

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When pressed by BBC journalist Chris Mason over why he wouldn't subject himself to a by-election, Anderson said that it would be "reckless" to suggest a by-election when there could be a General Election in May. 

He then added that it would "cost a fortune". 

Anderson was deputy chairman of the Tory party until he resigned in January to rebel against Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s legislation to revive his stalled plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.