Rishi Sunak’s decision to promote a divisive Tory MP to a senior position has proved controversial.
Lee Anderson was appointed deputy chairman of the Conservative Party in a reshuffle on Tuesday.
The 56-year-old has came under fire over the years for criticising England’s footballers for taking the knee and claiming food bank users ‘cannot budget’.
He will take his new position alongside new Tory chairman Greg Hands, who was given the job following the sacking of Nadhim Zahawi over his tax affairs.
Mr Anderson retweeted the announcement from the official Conservative Twitter account, saying: ‘Yes it’s true. From the pits to Parliament. Feeling very proud.’
But the news sparked disgust among some Labour members, with Zarah Sultana, Labour MP for Coventry South, tweeting: ‘He boycotted the England team because they took the knee and said people in poverty “cannot budget” and should cook 30p meals.
‘That sound you can hear? It’s the Conservatives scraping the barrel.’
MP for Ashfield in Nottinghamshire Mr Anderson is a former Labour member who flipped to the Conservatives in 2018.
He defected after he was suspended by his local group for placing concrete blocks to stop travellers illegally camping in a car park.
Discussing his change of party, he has blamed a ‘takeover’ of Labour by the ‘hard-left’ under former leader Jeremy Corbyn.
The Brexit supporter snatched the Ashfield seat from Labour in the 2019 election as part of Boris Johnson’s crushing of Mr Corbyn’s outfit in so-called ‘red wall’ constituencies.
Throughout his years as an MP, he has been at the centre of disputes following comments that many have viewed as inappropriate.
During a Commons speech in May, he suggested people in the UK use food banks because they ‘cannot cook properly’ and ‘cannot budget’.
In a video on Facebook in July of that year, Mr Anderson said ‘I don’t like the taking the knee business’ because it was associated with the Black Lives Matter political movement.
Lee Anderson MP has just been made Deputy Chair of the Conservative Party.
He boycotted the England team because they took the knee and said people in poverty “cannot budget” and should cook 30p meals.
That sound you can hear?
It’s the Conservatives scraping the barrel.
UPDATE: heâs been handed a deck chair https://t.co/sHHweiocir
During his winning election campaign in 2019, he was criticised for suggesting ‘nuisance tenants’ living on a council estate should be evicted into tents in a field to pick vegetables.
Mr Sunak selected Mr Anderson as deputy chairman despite the MP apparently criticising the Government’s approach to unlawful immigration.
In messages reportedly leaked from a WhatsApp group, he is said to have stated that ministers were acting ‘like the band on the Titanic’.
The alleged comments came after a Sunday Express front page story claimed Whitehall officials were trying to ‘scupper’ the prime minister’s plans to tackle small boats crossing the Channel.
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner, retweeting the ‘Titanic’ remarks, today and wrote: ‘Update: he’s been handed a deck chair.’
Nickie Aiken, MP for Cities of London and Westminster, tweeted that she was ‘delighted to be continuing as deputy chairman’ of the Tory party, a position she will hold alongside Mr Anderson.
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