Two Conservative MPs have demanded an immediate investigation into their Kenyan born party colleague Lord Sheikh after he confirmed that like Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, he also attended the conference on Palestinian rights in Tunisia.
While confirming that he was at the event, the “International Conference on Monitoring The Palestinian Political And Legal Situation In The Light Of Israeli Aggression” conference four years ago in Tunisia, he denied meeting any members of Hamas, which is on the EU’s terror blacklist.
“When I talk on Palestine I’m very balanced with regards to Palestine,” Lord Sheikh, who was born in Kenya and raised in Uganda, said.
However, Conservative MPs Robert Halfon and Zac Goldsmith have complained to party HQ, claiming that attending the 2014 conference was in itself a breach of the party’s code of conduct and “does nothing to combat the scourge of anti-Semitism. Quite the reverse”.
If this man is not immediately expelled from the Conservative Party, the Party hierarchy’s complaints about Corbyn will look entirely cynical. https://t.co/kO7ZMEAUxs
— Zac Goldsmith (@ZacGoldsmith) August 14, 2018
Calling on the Conservative Party Board to issue a Code of Conduct complaint against Lord Sheikh, Mr Halfon and Mr Goldsmith said:
“Our Party Chairman, The Rt Hon Brandon Lewis MP, has noted the disgraceful nature of this conference in his powerful article in the Daily Mail where he rightly condemns the attendance of the Leader of the Opposition at the same conference… We cannot, as a Party, rightly and robustly criticise the Leader of the Opposition for his attendance at this conference while allowing the attendance of a Conservative Peer at the same event to pass without comment or complaint. To do so would be to indulge in hypocrisy and double standards. In our opinion, Lord Sheikh’s attendance at this conference was hugely disappointing and raises significant questions that need to be answered. These include whether Lord Sheikh is in contravention of the Code.”
Ironically, Lord Sheikh himself had just last week been calling for the party whip to be removed from his colleague Boris Johnson, following the former Foreign Secretary’s comments in an article opposing Denmark’s face-covering ban where he likened wearers of the the niqab and burka to letter boxes and bank robbers.
"An apology is not enough… Take the whip from him, why not?"
Senior Conservative peer and founder of the Conservative Muslim Forum, Lord Sheikh, says Boris Johnson should be kicked out of the Tories over burka comments @AlexForsythBBC | #newsnight pic.twitter.com/1XjfvWjLRg
— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) August 7, 2018
Lord Sheikh declared on the 2014 Parliamentary register that his conference trip was paid for by the Government of Tunisia and this isn’t the first time he has made a controversial trip with Mr Corbyn as the pair both visited Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in 2009.
The Campaign Against Antisemitism have also said they are “very concerned” that Lord Sheikh was in attendance at a conference and will be asking the Conservative Party to investigate the matter.