The chair of the Muslim Conservative Forum has criticised Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg for meeting with Steve Bannon and said the pair should apologise.
Mohammed Amin, who along with the Muslim Council of Great Britain, Baroness Warsi and Tory peer Lord Sheikh, has called for an investigation into Islamophobia within the Conservative Party, said it was “very concerning” the MPs had reportedly met Bannon.
“Very concerning, not just to muslims but also to Jews,” said Amin.
“Steve Bannon is a man who fundamentally is sympathetic, to put it at its mildest, towards people who are anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim, and he’s said very positive things about the French National Front, and is someone that no Conservative should ever be consorting with. The problem is, individual initiatives of individual Conservative MPs are seen by grassroots citizens as being the Conservative Party itself.”
He gave an example of Tory MP for Kettering Philip Hollobone attempting in 2010 to introduce a private members’ bill to ban the burka and the niqab, and receiving letters from Muslims asking why the “Conservative government” wanted to ban it.
“Because that’s how they see it, a Conservative MP is representative of the government,” he said.
'A full and frank apology'
Asked what Johnson and Rees-Mogg should do, he responded: “The only thing that would help would be a full and frank apology. There can be no good reason for any Conservative MP to meet with Steve Bannon.”
Johnson has not responded to talkRADIO’s attempts to get in touch with him about his reported meetings with Bannon. Rees-Mogg did respond to a text message requesting further information on the meeting, saying it was “rather stale news”.
He discussed it with Evan Davis on the BBC’s Marr show in December, and said: “I talk to any number of people whose political views I do not share or endorse… inevitably politicians meet other politicians and that doesn’t mean they agree with everything they say. Mr Bannon was the chief of staff to Trump and a senior figure in the Republican party. He was interesting to meet and very well informed.”
On Amin’s assertion that he and Johnson should apologise, he said: “It is the job of politicians to meet people.”
Rees-Mogg 'met Russian Ambassador and his country attempts to murder people'
The text message from Jacob Rees-Mogg
During the discussion, which took place over text message, we asked him if he’d like to make a comment on his meeting with Steve Bannon again, considering it was being discussed on social media.
“It is the same as before,” he replied. “As a politician, inevitably I meet a range of people and a meeting is not an endorsement.
“After all, I have met the Russian Ambassador and his country murders and attempts to murder people in England.”
Rees-Mogg did not refer to a particular incident, but the Russian Embassy has denied any involvement in the most recent novichok poisoning.