Johnson: Probe ‘very soon’ into Tory Islamophobia and other prejudice
Boris Johnson has committed to launch an inquiry this year into Islamophobia and other forms of prejudice within the Tory party.
The Prime Minister said he would begin the investigation “very soon”, but it provoked ire, with some groups wanting an inquiry to focus only on anti-Muslim bigotry.
The Conservatives have been under pressure after a survey suggested 56% of party members believe Islam is a threat to the British way of life.
Mr Johnson appeared to back an inquiry into anti-Muslim prejudice, during a televised debate in the Conservative leadership election with now-Chancellor Sajid Javid.
But he told reporters on his flight to New York, where he was attending the United Nations General Assembly, that he would broaden the inquiry to include all forms of prejudice.
“What Sajid Javid and I – and he said this to me immediately after the debate on TV – what we are going to have is an inquiry into Islamophobia that will also comprise of prejudice and discrimination of other kinds,” the PM said.
“And Saj was absolutely clear that is what he wanted and that is what we are going to do.”
Asked when it would begin, the PM replied: “We will start very soon.”
Pressed on whether that would be this year, he said: “Yes.”
The YouGov survey for Channel 4’s Dispatches suggested 56% of the Tory membership thought Islam was “generally a threat” to the British way of life and just 22% thought it was “generally compatible”.
The Muslim Council of Britain has persistently called for the inquiry to focus on anti-Islam bigotry and wants the definition of Islamophobia to reflect the experiences of Muslims.
In reaction to the PM’s latest words, secretary general Harun Khan said: “The Conservative Party must accept that it has an institutional problem with Islamophobia, and the first step towards tackling this is to hold an inquiry specifically into Islamophobia to understand the extent of this.
“This shouldn’t be at the expense of a broad inquiry into prejudice and discrimination, but alongside this.”
Tory chairman James Cleverly previously raised the prospect that the 892 people polled between June 11 and 14 might not have all been Tory members because the party did not share records with the pollster.