Former Tory MP Lee Anderson to join Reform UK

The MP for Ashfield was suspended last month over claims 'Islamists' had 'got control' of London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Former Tory MP Lee Anderson has joined the Reform UK party, it’s been announced at a press conference.

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

Reform’s leader, Richard Tice made the announcement on Monday morning.

The spontaneous press conference was fraught with chaos, with a flag having to be moved because it was in the way of the speech, and Anderson asking “who’s laughing?”, as he started speaking.

Anderson was kicked out of the Conservative Party last month after refusing to apologise for claiming that “Islamists” had “got control” of London mayor Sadiq Khan.

The Ashfield MP told ITV News last month he would never apologise for what he said, even if it meant he had to “stand down or not stand at all”.

When asked about whether he would join Reform UK, he said “I’m not prepared to discuss my political journey beyond this week.”

Anderson will now have represented three different parties, he was previously a member of the Labour party, being elected as a Labour councillor in the 2015 Ashfield District Council elections.

After the comments by Anderson, there was growing pressure on the prime minister to label what he said as “Islamophobic” and “racist”.

In an interview with ITV News after his comments, Anderson said “I’m not Islamophobic”.

The comments by the Ashfield MP have coincided with growing concern within government around tackling extremism.

Rishi Sunak made a surprise speech on Downing Street on March 2 where he warned there were “forces trying to tear us apart” in the UK, and that “democracy itself it a target”.

The government are also expected to lay out a new definition of extremism this week, which has led to concern from three former home secretaries who have written a letter saying tackling extremism must not become political football.

Dame Priti Patel, Sir Sajid Javid and Amber Rudd are among the signatories to a statement calling for “as broad a consensus as possible” in tackling extremism from Islamists, far-right groups and others.

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