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    Anderson was wrong, but Khan's record as mayor is terrible, transport minister says

    Mark Harper says Sadiq Khan has a “terrible record as London mayor”; Photo: Viktor Shimanovic/Anadolu/Getty Images

    Sadiq Khan should be attacked for his “terrible reputation” and not for “wrong” statements about his leadership, the transport minister has said.

    Mark Harper rebuked Lee Anderson for saying “Islamists” have “taken control” of the mayor of London, adding that the focus should instead be on the “multiple” legitimate criticisms that could be leveled against Mr Khan.

    Mr Anderson, the former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, lost the Tory whip after failing to apologize for his remarks, sparking a furious row and accusations of Islamophobia.

    Rishi Sunak now faces warnings from Red Wall MPs about backlash from constituents over the sacking, according to leaked WhatsApp messages seen by The Telegraph.

    Live: Latest Politics

    Sunak 'too weak'; to brand Lee Anderson's remarks as Islamophobic, Starmer claims. Read more

    But Mr Harper defended the decision to withdraw the whip, saying comments from Mr Anderson, the Ashfield MP, were “wrong and misguided”.

    He said the Tories should focus instead on Mr Khan's “terrible record” as mayor, telling GB News: “There are a lot of things to criticize Sadiq Khan for.

    “He has a terrible record as Mayor of London. I have been very critical of his implementation of the Ulez scheme with a false narrative about why he is doing it related to air quality when the facts say it has nothing to do with it, pushing poorer motorists off the road.

    < p>“This is what we should criticize Sadiq Khan for – his record, not because he says things that are wrong and wrong. And that's why Lee Anderson had his whip removed.”

    Messages posted by Red Wall Tory MPs in private WhatsApp groups over the weekend suggest some are worried about the consequences. Those concerns are being raised by some MPs who, like Mr Anderson, won long-standing Labor seats in 2019 – seats that Mr Sunak is contesting.

    It was reported on Saturday that Nigel Farage was trying get these places. persuade Mr Anderson to join Reform UK, the right-wing party led by Richard Tice.

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