Nusrat Ghani: MP from Birmingham claims she was sacked because of concerns about her “Muslimness”

An investigation has now been launched after MP Nusrat Ghani, who grew up in Birmingham, claimed her faith was discussed as a reason why she lost her job as transport minister in 2020

MP Nusrat Ghani has claimed that she was demoted from the position of transport minister in 2020 due to her Muslim faith.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, Ms Ghani said a Government whip told her that her “Muslimness” had been raised as an issue and an MP had said her faith was making others “uncomfortable”.

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Chief whip Mark Spencer later identified himself as the whip Ms Ghani had spoken to but the allegations have been strongly denied by Mr Spencer, who called them “completely false”.

He said her comments in the interview were “defamatory”.

Boris Johnson has now ordered a full inquiry following Ms Ghani’s claims.

Tory MP Nusrat Ghani who has accused a government whip of telling her that she was sacked from her ministerial post because her Muslim faith was making colleagues uncomfortable (image: UK Parliament)

Who is Nusrat Ghani?

Ms Ghani, 49, was born in Kashmir to Pakistani parents and grew up in Birmingham.

Ms Ghani attended Bordesley Green Girls’ School and studied at Birmingham City University, graduating with a BA in government and politics.

She later earned a master’s degree at Leeds University in international relations.

She worked in an investment bank, charities and the BBC World Service before entering politics. She is married with one child.

Ms Ghani stood in the 2010 general election for the seat of Birmingham Ladywood and lost, but was elected as MP for Wealden in East Sussex in 2015.

She was the first female to win the seat and the first Muslim woman elected as a Tory MP.

After winning the seat, Ms Ghani said: “As the nation wakes up the Conservatives look to be on the brink of returning to government.”

“We have helped put our country back on track. Our party has taken bold steps and you have put your trust in us to finish the job.”

In 2015, Ms Ghani was appointed a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee.

A Brexiteer, Ms Ghani in 2016 told the BBC: “Britain has a chance to vote for a bold, positive future as an independent country in control of its own destiny.

“We have the chance to liberate our economy from a declining corner of the world and spread our wings to the whole globe.”

Ms Ghani was appointed assistant whip and transport minister in 2018 under Theresa May. She was the first female Muslim to speak from the Commons dispatch box. At the time, then-Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told the BBC her promotion showed the Conservatives “were a party of opportunity”.

When was Nusrat Ghani sacked?

The MP was sacked in a ministerial reshuffle in February 2020.

Ms Ghani said that she told Mr Johnson about the matter directly after losing her job.

However, he told her he could not get involved.

The Prime Minister has now asked the Cabinet Office to “establish the facts” regarding Ms Ghani’s claims of Islamophobia.

Hucknall MP Mark Spencer, the Government chief whip, has denied the claims made against him by former minister Nusrat Ghani. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/Getty Images

What has Downing Street said about Nusrat Ghani’s claims?

A No 10 spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister has asked the Cabinet Office to conduct an inquiry into the allegations made by Nusrat Ghani MP.

“At the time these allegations were first made, the Prime Minister recommended to her that she make a formal complain to CCHQ (Conservative Campaign Headquarters).

“She did not take up this offer.

“The Prime Minister has now asked officials to establish the facts about what happened.

“As he said at the time, the Prime Minister takes these claims very seriously.”

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