Minister brands controversial Tory MP '30p Lee' a 'good thing for the Conservative Party'

9 February 2023, 08:50 | Updated: 9 February 2023, 08:54

Minister Claire Coutinho says controversial MP Lee Anderson is a 'good thing' for the Tory Party

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Children minister Claire Coutinho has said she is a "big fan" of controversial new Deputy Tory chairman Lee Anderson.

The comment comes after the newly appointed deputy Conservative Party chairman said he would support the return of the death penalty because "nobody has ever committed a crime after being executed".

Outspoken Ashfield MP Lee Anderson was handed the position, working as one of new chairman Greg Hand's lieutenants in the run-up to the next election, by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during Tuesday's reshuffle.

Watch: New Tory Party Chairman defends decision to to appoint controversial MP Lee Anderson as his deputy

Read more: Tory deputy party chairman backs return of death penalty: 'Nobody has ever committed a crime after being executed'

Asked about his support for the death penalty, Coutinho told Nick Ferrari at Breakfast on LBC: "I don't agree with Lee all the time. I don't back the return of the death penalty, for example, but I do support Lee...

"What I think people respond to when it comes to Lee is he does speak his mind. And I think it's really important that we have people who have lots of different opinions.

"And that's one of the things I like about the Conservative Party frankly, because we are very good at living alongside each other even when we disagree."

She added: "I'm a big fan of Lee and I think he's a very good thing for the party."

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A former Labour councilor before converting to the Tories, Mr Anderson has been no stranger to controversy since being elected to Westminster in 2019, having criticised food bank users and the England men's football team for taking the knee in protest at racism.

In an interview with The Spectator magazine a few days before his appointment, Mr Anderson said he would support the UK reintroducing the death penalty.

He also suggested using Royal Navy frigates to return to France those arriving in small boats across the English Channel.

Asked whether he would support the return of the death penalty, Mr Anderson told the weekly magazine: "Yes.

"Nobody has ever committed a crime after being executed.

"You know that, don't you? 100% success rate."

The death penalty for murder in the UK was outlawed permanently in 1969, with it totally abolished for all crimes in 1998.

The last people executed in Britain were Peter Allen and Gwynne Evans on August 13 1964.

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