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Minister calls on Tory MP to withdraw comments about ‘no-go areas’ in Britain

A minister has called on a Tory MP who claimed there were “no-go areas” in London and Birmingham to withdraw his comments.

Immigration minister Tom Pursglove said “I don’t recognise that depiction” when asked about comments made by former Tory minister Paul Scully.

Mr Scully, who served as the minister for London until the latest reshuffle, told BBC Radio London that people were “concerned about, more and more, their neighbourhoods changing”.

He also said Lee Anderson, who was suspended from the Tory party after refusing to apologise for claiming “Islamists” had achieved “control” over London, was “trying to reflect that in a really clumsy way”.

Asked about Mr Scully’s claims on Sky News Breakfast, Mr Pursglove said: “I don’t recognise that depiction.”

He said a “key part” of his role and the government’s migration plans were encouraging immigrants to integrate.

“I think it would be best, again, if that comment was withdrawn,” he added.

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“I don’t recognise that as being the situation in London or Birmingham, but we as politicians must always be forward leaning and on the front foot when it comes to integrating people into our communities and making sure that people are able to play a full contribution in UK society.”

Mr Scully, the MP for Sutton and Cheam, said he wanted there to be “a sensible use of language so we have a constructive adult debate”.

“If you were just looking at the colour of skin and, for example, when a number of Indians were coming in the 70s – my father is half-Burmese, so I’ve seen it first hand – and if it is about the colour of skin, that’s one thing,” he said.

Paul Scully
Image: Former minister Paul Scully.

“The point I am trying to make is if you look at parts of Tower Hamlets, for example, there are no-go areas.

“Parts of Birmingham, Sparkhill, where there are no-go areas, mainly because of doctrine, mainly because of people using – abusing in many ways – their religion because it is not the doctrine of Islam, to espouse what some of these people are saying.

“That, I think, is the concern that needs to be addressed.”

The comments were criticised by Tory West Midlands mayor Andy Street, who posted on X that it was “news to me and I suspect the good people of Sparkhill” to claim there were “no-go areas”.

He added: “It really is time for those in Westminster to stop the nonsense slurs and experience the real world. I for one am proud to lead the most diverse place in Britain.”

Jess Phillips, the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, also wrote on the social media platform that she was “expecting an apology for this utter drivel”.

“My kids hang out in Sparkhill day and night, never had a moment’s worry, I go there weekly and live literally 5 minutes walk from there and used to live there myself.”

Downing Street has said Rishi Sunak did not agree with Mr Scully’s comments.

Asked if the prime minister believed there were “no-go” areas in Birmingham, his spokesman said: “No, and the PM has talked before about the value of the very diverse communities and societies that we have in the UK.”

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Mr Scully later posted on X: “As someone who has stood up and indeed championed British Muslims for a decade to end up as seen as espousing division and likened to Katie Hopkins, I’ll bow out of the conversation and leave the two sides to argue.

“I’ve always said language matters. So does perception and if moderates are pushed to one side or another, nothing will be resolved. I’m out.”

Mr Scully’s comments come as the Conservative Party faces accusations of Islamophobia following Lee Anderson’s claim that “Islamists” had taken control of London and its mayor, Sadiq Khan.

Mr Sunak has condemned Mr Anderson’s attack on Mr Khan as unacceptable and “wrong” but refused to say whether they were Islamophobic.

Asked whether Mr Anderson’s comments were racist, Mr Pursglove echoed the prime minister’s language and said: “I don’t think personally that Lee is racist, but what he said was unacceptable. He shouldn’t have said it.”

Sky News Source