Nusrat Ghani: who is Wealden MP, why was she sacked as transport minister - and investigation explained

The Cabinet Office has been asked to “establish the facts” regarding the MP’s claims of Islamophobia

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Boris Johnson has ordered an inquiry after a former minister said that she was sacked because of concerns about her “Muslimness”.

The Prime Minister had a phone conversation with Nusrat Ghani on Sunday evening (23 January).

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

What has Nusrat Ghani said about her sacking?

Ms Ghani claimed that she was removed as a transport minister because of concerns about her Muslim faith.

She said that she was informed by a Government whip that her faith was “making colleagues uncomfortable”.

The allegations have been strongly denied by Chief Whip Mark Spencer, who called them “completely false”.

He said her comments in an interview with The Sunday Times were “defamatory”.

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.

Who is Nusrat Ghani?

Boris Johnson has ordered an inquiry after Nusrat Ghani said that she was sacked because of concerns about her “Muslimness” (Getty / PA)Boris Johnson has ordered an inquiry after Nusrat Ghani said that she was sacked because of concerns about her “Muslimness” (Getty / PA)
Boris Johnson has ordered an inquiry after Nusrat Ghani said that she was sacked because of concerns about her “Muslimness” (Getty / PA)

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

She worked in an investment bank, charities and the BBC World Service before entering politics - and 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 Wealdon MP in 2015. She was the first female to win the seat and the first Muslim woman elected as a Tory MP.

Ms Ghani was appointed assistant whip and transport minister in 2018 under Theresa May and was the first female Muslim to speak from the Commons dispatch box.

In 2020, when Ms Ghani was removed from the role, she was replaced by Kelly Tolhurst.

Ms Ghani has said that she was surprised at the demotion, and the shuffle was reported in that light given she had been tipped to oversee the High Speed Two.

Now, Ms Ghani is a steering committee member of the backbench Covid Recovery Group who opposed the December 2020 lockdown and have voted against other Covid restrictions.

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.”

What has the reaction been to Nusrat Ghani’s claims?

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi, who on Sunday backed a probe into the allegations, said it was “important” the matter was looked into “properly”.

Speaking to Sky News on Monday, the Cabinet minister said: “She has made a very serious allegation, the Prime Minister spoke to her last night and said the Cabinet Office will investigate this and look at the detail of this.

“She put out a statement last night saying actually, to be fair to her, this could be people who weren’t even members of the Conservative Party, which is why we need to get to the bottom of this very quickly.

“And of course the Chief Whip has come out and named himself as the individual and I work with both colleagues, and I think it is important that someone like a Cabinet Office senior civil servant should look at this properly, because the Chief Whip has also categorically denied this.”

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