Fury as Tory MP claims there are religious ‘no-go’ areas in Birmingham and London as party's Islamophobia row deepens

26 February 2024, 19:33 | Updated: 26 February 2024, 19:43

Paul Scully claimed the cities had 'no-go' areas.
Paul Scully claimed the cities had 'no-go' areas. Picture: Alamy

By Jenny Medlicott

A Tory former minister has sparked a fresh Islamophobia row after claiming there are ‘no-go areas’ in parts of London and Birmingham.

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Paul Scully, the MP for Sutton and Cheam, made the comments during a conversation about Islamophobic sentiment within the Conservative party following comments by MP Lee Anderson.

Speaking about regions in London and Birmingham, the former minister for the capital said there were some “no-go areas” where Muslim people live.

“The point I am trying to make is if you look at parts of Tower Hamlets, for example, where there are no-go areas," he told the BBC.

"Parts of Birmingham, Sparkhill, where there are no-go areas, mainly because of doctrine, mainly because of people using, abusing in many ways, their religion because it is not the doctrine of Islam, to espouse what some of these people are saying.

“That, I think, is the concern that needs to be addressed.”

Mr Scully’s comments have sparked fresh backlash amid an ongoing Islamophobia row within the Tory party over comments made by MP Lee Anderson.

Paul Scully has sparked a fresh row.
Paul Scully has sparked a fresh row. Picture: Alamy

Mr Anderson lost his Tory whip after he claimed London mayor Sadiq Khan was under the control of “Islamists”.

Reacting to the comments by Mr Scully, Andy Street, Tory mayor of the West Midlands, called on Westminster to “stop the nonsense slurs”.

Writing on X, Mr Street said: “The idea that Birmingham has a ‘no-go’ zone is news to me, and I suspect the good people of Sparkhill.

“It really is time for those in Westminster to stop the nonsense slurs and experience the real world.

“I for one am proud to lead the most diverse place in Britain.”

While Labour MP Jess Phillips, whose constituency includes part of the Sparkhill area in Birmingham, called for an apology over the comments.

She said: “As one of the MPs for Sparkhill I am expecting an apology for this utter drivel.

“My kids hang out in Sparkhill day and night, never had a moment’s worry, I go there weekly and live literally a five-minute walk from there and used to live there myself.”

Read more: Lee Anderson refuses to apologise for 'Islamist' comments as he doubles down on criticism of Sadiq Khan

Read more: PM denies Tories have 'Islamophobic tendencies' as minister says Lee Anderson's comments were 'profoundly wrong'

Mark Harper: 'He shouldn't have said it, and it was right that he had the whip taken away'

A spokesperson for Tower Hamlets Council said: “These comments are surprising and extremely disappointing. Tower Hamlets is one of the most popular places in the country to live, work and visit.

“Our borough is iconic, and hosts some of London’s best destinations from the Young V&A and the Tower of London to the award-winning Victoria Park and international events like the London Marathon.

“While we have destinations any city would envy, we are most proud of our people. Tower Hamlets is a microcosm of an international city.

"We are an example of how people of all backgrounds get on together in one of the most diverse places in the country. In fact, 87% of people said they get on with each other in our recent survey of residents.

“From Wapping to Mile End, from Bethnal Green to Bow, or Stepney to Spitalfields, every part of Tower Hamlets is a ‘go to’ area for millions of people to visit again and again. That is enough of an endorsement for us.”

A spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain, Miqdaad Versi, also said that the phrase “no-go area” was a “typical false and Islamophobic trope”.

Lee Anderson doubled down on his comments on Monday.
Lee Anderson doubled down on his comments on Monday. Picture: Alamy

Asked if Rishi Sunak agreed there were “no-go” areas in Birmingham, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister said: “No, and the PM has talked before about the value of the very diverse communities and societies that we have in the UK."

Mr Scully said on X following the backlash: “Last word on my response to Lee Anderson's comments.

“As someone who has stood up and indeed championed British Muslims for a decade to end up as seen as espousing division and likened to Katie Hopkins, I'll bow out of the conversation and leave the two sides to argue.

“I've always said language matters. So does perception and if moderates are pushed to one side or another, nothing will be resolved. I'm out.”

It comes after Mr Anderson refused to apologise for his comments about Sadiq Khan on Monday.

The MP for Ashfield admitted his words were "clumsy" but doubled down on his criticism of the Mayor of London.

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