Tory MPs believe Lee Anderson suspension was a mistake, leaked WhatsApps reveal

Politics

Tory MPs have complained that suspending Lee Anderson may have been a mistake, WhatsApp messages leaked to Sky News have revealed.

After one of the most toxic weeks in Westminster, the Sky News and Politico podcast, Politics at Jack and Sam’s, examines the attitude of all sides to the controversies of the last few days.

The future of Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker, remains in the balance – the podcast explains – while both Labour and Tory MPs have got increasingly trenchant in their views ahead of a by-election in Rochdale this Friday which could see George Galloway elected.

Rishi Sunak suspended Mr Anderson on Saturday after the former Tory deputy chair failed to apologise for telling GB News that the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, had “given our capital city away to his mates”.

Simon Hart, the Tory chief whip, suspended him the next day.

As part of this, the podcast exclusively obtained WhatsApp messages in which Tory MPs complain that the suspension of the high-profile Tory MP is the “final nail in the coffin” and will harm support.

The WhatsApp forum is called the “109 group” of Tory MPs elected in 2019.

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Julie Marson shared a news story showing Nigel Farage calling on “cancelled” Lee Anderson to join the Reform party and “destroy” the Tories.

Her colleague Tom Hunt replied: “This isn’t good at all.”

Jill Mortimer shared messages from constituents saying that they would not vote Tory again and that “Lee Anderson’s suspension is the final nail in the party’s coffin”.

Sarah Dines reinforced this, saying she’s had “loads” of similar messages from “random” constituents, not known supporters.

Sarah Atherton said she’d lodged her concerns about Mr Anderson “due to an instant backlash from members”.

Peter Gibson then says the “inbox [is] very positive for Lee”.

Mr Farage, the founder of Reform, has said that Mr Anderson should defect to the party but Richard Tice, the current leader, pointed out that Mr Farage is not the leader.

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