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

8 February 2023, 09:26 | Updated: 9 February 2023, 12:41

Nick Ferrari grills Greg Hands after Lee Anderson appointment as Tory Party deputy chairman

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

New Tory Chairman defends the decision to appoint controversial MP Lee Anderson as his deputy.

New Conservative chairman Greg Hands was pressed by Nick Ferrari at Breakfast on LBC on whether he agreed with previous remarks by new deputy chairman Lee Anderson.

Mr Anderson has been the member for Ashfield since 2019. He was nicknamed "30p Lee" by fellow backbenchers for his spendthrift advice during the cost of living crisis.

Anderson's promotion came as Rishi Sunak sought to give his government a facelift, creating four new government departments and replacing ex-party chairman Nadhim Zahawi with Greg Hands.

Mr Anderson has previously suggested people in the UK use food banks because they "cannot cook properly" and "cannot budget", with other outspoken remarks including that "nuisance" council tenants should be forced to live in tents.

Watch: Andrew Marr: Rishi Sunak's 'kerfuffle reshuffle' will cause a lot of commotion for little tangible change

Read more: Rishi Sunak appoints firebrand Red Wall MP Lee Anderson deputy party chairman in mini-reshuffle

Just last week Mr Anderson compared the government to the "band on the Titanic" in a heated WhatsApp exchange about small boat crossings.

Mr Hands declined to say whether he backed some of Mr Anderson's past comments, but told LBC he had not "studied every single pronouncement made by Conservative backbenchers".

He said he would not comment on things that had been said in the past, but was looking forward to working with Mr Anderson.

Asked if he or the party endorsed those various views, he said: "In terms of things that may or may not have been said in the past, I'm don't have encyclopaedic knowledge of what everybody has ever said in the past."

Tory MP Ben Bradley says he wants to scrap government departments.

Business Secretary Grant Shapps will now be Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary, while ex-international trade secretary Kemi Badenoch will now lead a larger Department for Business and Trade.

Ex-Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan moves from her current role to a new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology. Lucy Frazer joins the Cabinet with the culture brief.

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