Tory MP claims she was told she lost her job because of her ‘Muslimness’

Nusrat Ghani’s allegations deepen crisis around Boris Johnson ahead of Sue Gray report

A Conservative MP’s claim that her Muslim faith was cited as a reason she was sacked as a minister has deepened the crisis around Boris Johnson’s leadership ahead of this week’s release of a report into lockdown-breaking parties at Downing Street.

Nusrat Ghani said the issue of her faith came up when she asked a government whip why she had lost her job as a transport minister in a February 2020 reshuffle.

“I was told that at the reshuffle meeting in Downing Street ‘Muslimness’ was raised as an ‘issue’, that my ‘Muslim woman minister’ status was making colleagues uncomfortable and that there were concerns ‘that I wasn’t loyal to the party as I didn’t do enough to defend the party against Islamophobia allegations’,” she told the Sunday Times.

Chief whip Mark Spencer confirmed that he was the whip Ms Ghani had spoken to but he said her claims were completely false and defamatory. Downing Street said Mr Johnson had met Ms Ghani to discuss her allegations and told her she should make a formal complaint to initiate an internal Conservative party investigation of her allegations.


Justice secretary Dominic Raab said the Conservative party had zero tolerance for Islamophobia but Ms Ghani had not made a formal complaint so there had been no investigation of the claims she was making.

“On these specific allegations, it’s very unusual, but the chief whip has come out and said the conversation concerned was with him, Mark Spencer. He has categorically denied in what can only be described as the most forthright and robust terms, calling it defamatory.

“The one point I would note is that if there are any claims like this, they should result in a formal complaint which allows a formal investigation to take place. As the chief whip has pointed out, Nus hasn’t made a formal complaint. She was asked to do so. This relates back to 2020. And in the absence of doing so, there will be no specific investigation into this.”

Blackmail allegations

Conservative MP William Wragg will meet police officers this week to discuss his allegations that MPs have faced intimidation and blackmail from the prime minister's supporters. Mr Wragg is one of a handful of MPs who have called for Mr Johnson to resign but more are expected to follow suit after senior civil servant Sue Gray's report is published this week.

According to reports over the weekend, Ms Gray has broadened her investigation to include parties allegedly held during lockdown in Mr Johnson’s private flat. The prime minister will make a statement to the House of Commons and take questions from MPs after he receives the report.

The government has committed to publishing Ms Gray’s findings but Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said the entire report should be published.

"Boris Johnson cannot be allowed to cover-up or obscure any of the truth when he has insisted on a hugely protracted internal probe to tell him which parties he attended and what happened in his own home. The Sue Gray report must be published in its entirety with all accompanying evidence," she said.

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton is China Correspondent of The Irish Times