Leeds Tory candidate suspended from party over anti-Semitism - but he will still appear on the ballot paper
The Conservative candidate for Leeds North East has been suspended from the Conservative Party after he said British Jews were "brainwashed extremists" when they return from travelling in Israel.
The Leeds Jewish Leadership Council said "other parties should learn from" the quick action taken by the Conservative Party to suspend Amjad Bashir, as a party spokesman said: “Amjad Bashir has been suspended from the party pending investigation and election support has been withdrawn.”
Mr Bashir will remain on the ballot paper, appearing as the Conservative Party candidate, as the selection process has already been confirmed, but the spokesman made clear the party did not support him any longer.
The Leeds Jewish Community had been calling for his suspension since the comments from 2014 were revealed by the Jewish Chronicle on Monday.
In a statement the Jewish Leadership Council said: “The right decision has been made by the conservative party in the suspension of candidate Amjad Bashir in Leeds North East, this is what a zero tolerance approach looks like. The due diligence checks of the Conservatives clearly failed but they have now corrected their mistake. Other parties should learn from this.”
The Jewish Leadership Council, Conservative Friends of Israel and the Board of Deputies had condemned Mr Bashir's comments.
Lisa Baker, President of the Leeds Jewish Representative Council, added: "I am delighted to hear that the Conservative Party have acted to expel Mr Bashir but I am disappointed that they have taken until today to act and have not responded to the local community”
Fabian Hamilton, Labour candidate for Leeds North East, said “Any person that holds such offensive views is not fit to hold public office, whatever party they represent.
“He has insulted the entire Jewish community in North East Leeds with his clearly anti-Semitic remarks and I share the community’s anger that someone with these views could have been selected to represent any political party in our constituency.”
Leeds City Council councillor Dan Cohen, a Jewish Conservative for Alwoodley ward, said he wasn't surprised that Mr Bashir had been suspended and that if the comments were revealed prior to selection he would likely have been approved from the candidates list.
In an earlier statement Mr Cohen said of Mr Bashir's comments: “To say I am upset, cross and disappointed is an understatement.”
Both Mr Cohen and the local Conservative Association had said prior to the suspension they would not be campaigning for Mr Bashir in any event.
He said: “Questions are, I know, being asked about how Mr Bashir made it onto the approved list.
“For me, it's reassuring to know that my party takes these issues very seriously and acts both swiftly and proportionately.”
Mr Bashir has been contacted for comment on the suspension.
But he previously apologised for the comments.
He said: “I deeply regret the comments I made around brainwashing – this was borne from a personal experience but it was completely wrong and I apologise unreservedly for it.”