Rishi Sunak has used his keynote speech at Conservative Party conference to single out the London Tory mayoral candidate Susan Hall for praise, despite widespread condemnation of her comments about the Jewish community in relation to Sadiq Khan.
Speaking in Manchester on Wednesday, the prime minister claimed:”Susan Hall is doing a great job holding Sadiq Khan to account.
“You will be safer with Susan.”
His comments, made during a one hour long speech, appeared to be a sign he was supportive of Hall’s remarks this week in which she refused to apologise for claiming Jewish Londoners are “frightened” of Sadiq Khan, who she said was “divisive”.
The Board of Deputies had led the criticism from within the community of Hall’s remarks, but there was also growing criticism of the mayoral candidate’s comments from senior Conservative voices.
On Tuesday evening, business minister Nusrat Ghani said Conservatives said:“The language of fear and demeaning our political opponents is not a Conservative value that I recognise… and we shouldn’t stoop to it.
“To get the Board of Deputies to issue a statement to slap that comment down shows these comments do not work, especially when they attract such condemnation from the people that you are purporting to support.”
Ghani added:”Have we not learned anything from Zac Goldsmith’s similar attempts in his mayoral campaign which ended in abject failure?”.
Also criticising Hall was the respected commentator and author Danny Finkelstein who tweeted: “This claim about the mayor is unfounded and a flatly wrong thing to say.”
Hugo Rifkind, the Jewish journalist son of the former Tory minister, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, also accused Hall of “flat-out bigotry”. He added that when he interviewed Khan shortly after he became mayor he “got the sense he was, in fact, more religiously-minded than many realise.”
But he added:”But it’s straight-up prejudice to assume that translates into hostility to other religions.”
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