Nusrat Ghani, the Muslim Conservative member of the parliament (MP) from Wealden who was allegedly sacked as transport minister in the past because of her faith, was on Wednesday (7) appointed as the minister of state at the department for business, energy and industrial strategy as the new government of prime minister Liz Truss took over.
The 50-year-old had served as the parliamentary under secretary of state at the department of transport between January 2018 and February 2020 when she was removed as part of former prime minister Boris Johnson’s first cabinet reshuffle after he was elected in December 2019. The move, which was reportedly made without an explanation, surprised many political observers as Ghani earned praise for her work for HS2, a high-speed railway line between London and a number of big cities of England.
Ghani had alleged that Johnson’s whip had referred to her “Muslimness” while sacking her. Johnson later launched a cabinet office probe into the charges after the parliamentarian accused him of showing little willingness to “get involved” in the matter. Sources in Downing Street said that the former prime minister had asked officials to establish the facts and that he took the allegations “very seriously”.
According to a report published by a leading British weekly newspaper, the Wealden MP claimed that she was told that her “Muslimness” was picked as an issue at a meeting held in Downing Street. She was told that her “Muslim woman minister status was making colleagues feel uncomfortable” and that there were concerns that she “wasn’t loyal to the party” as she hadn’t done enough to defend the party against Islamophobia allegation.
“It was like being punched in the stomach. I felt humiliated and powerless,” she was quoted as saying.
The lawmaker had welcomed the decision taken by Johnson to probe the allegations saying she wanted the matter to be taken seriously and be investigated by the prime minister.
However, the Mirror reported last month that Ghani has given up hope of a probe as was promised by Johnson who quit in July.
“I have tried to progress this but it’s clear nothing is going to happen,” she was quoted as saying.
Mark Spencer, who was the Tory whip when Ghani lost her ministry in 2020, admitted having a talk with her but denied that he had said anything to her related to faith, the Mirror added.
Johnson though agreed to hold an inquiry led by his former ethics adviser Lord Geidt but he quit after expressing unhappiness about how the former prime minister handled the controversy over lockdown parties that eventually led to his downfall.