A SUSSEX MP has accused a government whip of telling her she was sacked from her ministerial post because her Muslim faith was “making colleagues uncomfortable”.

Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani lost her job as a Transport Minister in a mini-reshuffle in February 2020, following the resignation of Sajid Javid as Chancellor.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, she said that in a briefing afterwards with the whips, she was told her “Muslimness” had been raised as an issue at a meeting in Downing Street.

The MP for Wealden told the paper: “It was like being punched in the stomach. I felt humiliated and powerless."

A spokesman for the whips’ office said the allegations were “categorically untrue” and the Conservative Party did not tolerate racism or discrimination.

In her interview, Ms Ghani said: “I was told that at the reshuffle meeting in Downing Street that ‘Muslimness’ was raised as an ‘issue’, that my ‘Muslim women minister’ status was making colleagues uncomfortable and that there were concerns ‘that I wasn’t loyal to the party as I didn’t do enough to defend the party against Islamophobia allegations’.

“When I challenged whether this was in any way acceptable and made clear there was little I could do about my identity, I had to listen to a monologue on how hard it was to define when people are being racist and that the party doesn’t have a problem and I needed to do more to defend it.

“It was very clear to me that the whips and No 10 were holding me to a higher threshold of loyalty than others because of my background and faith.”

Her comments come as the conduct of the whips’ office is under intense scrutiny amid accusations they used intimidation and blackmail to pressurise MPs seeking to oust Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.

Government Chief Whip Mark Spencer said he spoke to Nusrat Ghani after she was demoted in 2020, but denies that he said her religion was raised as an issue.

Mr Spencer posted on Twitter to identify himself, but denied the substance of the allegation.

He said: “To ensure other whips are not drawn into this matter, I am identifying myself as the person Nusrat Ghani MP has made claims about this evening.

“These accusations are completely false and I consider them to be defamatory. I have never used those words attributed to me.”

The senior Tory who first raised the issue, William Wragg, chairman of the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, praised Ms Ghani’s courage in speaking out.

He said: “Nus is very brave to speak out. I was truly appalled to learn of her experience. She shows such strength and integrity supporting others.

“I am proud to have her as my friend and colleague. We must change things for the better.”

Mr Wragg is due to discuss his claims with a Scotland Yard detective next week, adding to the pressure on Mr Johnson who is facing calls to resign over lockdown drinks parties in Downing Street.

Have you got a story for us? Email news@theargus.co.uk or contact us here.

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to keep up with all the latest news.

Sign up to our newsletter to get updates sent straight to your inbox.

You can also call us on 01273 021 400.