Rishi Sunak disowns new Tory deputy chair's death penalty call

Rishi Sunak disowns new Tory deputy chairman ’30p Lee’ Anderson’s call for return of death penalty saying the government is ‘tightening up sentencing laws’ instead

  • The MP for Ashfield said the death penalty has a ‘100 per cent success rate’
  • Read more: Lee Anderson’s parliamentary aide attended £33K private school

Rishi Sunak today disowned a call from the new Tory Party deputy chairman for the return of the death penalty.

The PM stressed that neither he nor the government wanted to bring back capital punishment after it emerged Lee Anderson argued it has a ‘100 per cent success rate’ in stopping reoffending.

Responding to the comments in an incendiary interview – carried out before Mr Anderson was appointed in the reshuffle on Monday – Mr Sunak said: ‘That’s not my view, that’s not the Government’s view. 

‘But we are united in the Conservative Party in wanting to be absolutely relentless in bearing down on crime and making sure people are safe and feel safe.’

Speaking on a visit to Cornwall this morning, he suggested that the government was focused on ‘tightening up sentencing laws’ and making people ‘safe’.

Speaking on a visit to Cornwall this morning with wife Akshata (left), Rishi Sunak (right) suggested that the government was focused on ‘tightening up sentencing laws’ and making people ‘safe’

Lee Anderson, MP for Ashfield and new Tory deputy chairman, has called for the return of the death penalty

Ashfield MP Mr Anderson, a former coal miner who defected from Labour in 2018, was this week promoted to the key role in the Tories’ general election campaign.

The pugnacious bruiser, who recently challenged a protester outside Parliament to a fight, has been brought in to sharpen the Tories’ appeal among working-class voters in Red Wall seats.

Labour has nicknamed him ’30p Lee’ after he argued that people using food banks should be given cooking lessons, because nutritious meals can be prepared for 30p a time.

In an interview in today’s Spectator, he said he would bring back the death penalty – last used in 1964 – for the most serious crimes, citing the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in 2013 as an example.

He told the magazine: ‘Nobody has ever committed a crime after being executed… 100 per cent success rate.’

Mr Anderson also said migrants arriving in Britain ‘are seeing a country where the streets are paved with gold – where, once you land, they are not in that manky little f***ing scruffy tent. They are going to be in a four-star hotel.’

He told the magazine: ‘I’d send them straight back the same day… and they’d just stop coming.’ 

Mr Anderson also said the Tories were ‘too scared’ to tighten the welfare system because ‘it’s like picking on poor people… when, actually, most working-class people would agree with me’.

Pressed on why he did not support the death penalty, Mr Sunak said the government had ‘tightened up sentencing laws for the most violent criminals’.

‘It’s why we’re on our way to having 20,000 more police officers on our streets and we’re giving those police officers more powers to tackle crime, whether it’s stop and search or just this week in Parliament we are giving police officers the power to tackle violent and extremist protesters,’ he said.

‘That’s because we want to make sure people are safe, they feel safe and that’s what we’re doing.’

Tory chairman Greg Hands has insisted Mr Anderson is a ‘fantastic asset for the party’. ‘He is a man of great integrity and fantastic background.’

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