Nusrat Ghani was told by Boris Johnson that he “could not get involved” over comments allegedly made by the Chief Whip, she claimed on Sunday amid a growing row over reports of Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.
Ms Ghani, a vice-chairman of the 1922 Committee, lost her role as a transport minister during a mini-reshuffle at the start of 2020.
On Saturday night, she claimed a whip told her that “Muslimness was raised as an issue” in Downing Street and her status as a female Muslim minister “was making colleagues feel uncomfortable”.
A Downing Street spokesman said that the Prime Minister had met with Ms Ghani in 2020 and encouraged her to submit a formal complaint so the party could launch an investigation.
“After being made aware of these extremely serious claims, the PM met with Nusrat Ghani to discuss them,” a spokesman said in a statement.
“He then wrote to her expressing his serious concern and inviting her to begin a formal complaint process. She did not subsequently do so. The Conservative Party does not tolerate prejudice or discrimination of any kind.”
But hours later, Ms Ghani released a statement of her own in which she claimed she had urged Mr Johnson to personally instigate an inquiry:
Nusrat Ghani statement
She concluded: “I have many things that I want to achieve in politics, not least my campaigns on human rights and genocide, and I am deeply disappointed that it has come to this.”
Now was “not the time” that Ms Ghani would have chosen for the information to emerge, she added.
It comes after a torrid few weeks for the Conservatives, marred by allegations of parties during coronavirus lockdowns and infighting over Mr Johnson’s leadership.
Mark Spencer, the Chief Whip, identified himself as the whip at the centre of Ms Ghani’s allegations, which he categorically denied.
He wrote on social media late on Saturday night that the allegations were “completely false and I consider them to be defamatory”.
“I have never used those words attributed to me,” he tweeted. “I provided evidence to the Singh Investigation into Islamophobia which concluded that there was no credible basis for the claims to be included in the report.”
Frontbenchers wade into row
Sajid Javid waded in on Sunday afternoon, describing Ms Ghani as “a friend a credit to a Conservative party”.
The Health Secretary proceeded to echo demands from Nadhim Zahawi, the Education Secretary, for an investigation into Ms Ghani’s allegations.
“Nus Ghani is a friend, a colleague and a brilliant parliamentarian. This has to be investigated properly and racism [rooted] out,” Mr Zahawi said.
Caroline Nokes, the Tory MP for Romsey and Southampton North, described Ms Ghani’s allegations as “appalling”, while Lord Sheikh of Cornhill, the president of the Conservative Muslim Forum, told Times Radio that he was “horrified to hear that she was sacked because of her faith”.