THE CONSERVATIVE Party has been urged to expel a Blackburn with Darwen election candidate over social media posts appearing to endorse Tommy Robinson.

The comments, posted in 2018 by Conservative candidate for Darwen South Andrew Walker, appear to show support for far-right EDL founder and convicted criminal Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, better known by his alias 'Tommy Robinson', while another jokes that stabbing former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn should "get you knighted."

The posts have now been condemned by Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner and by anti-fascist charity Hope Not Hate, with Ms Rayner saying that the Conservatives must explain why Mr Walker was readmitted to the party and selected as a council candidate after reportedly resigning in 2018, when the posts were first raised with the party’s central office.

Speaking to HuffPost UK, she said: “The Conservatives must explain whether it was incompetence or malice that led them to not only readmit this person into the party but then to select him as a candidate."

“They must also set out what steps they are taking to reassure the public that no other far right supporters are standing for them in the local elections.”

Ms Rayner added that she believed the Tories were facing “serious questions” over a “failure to tackle racism in their party”, pointing out that its inquiry into Islamophobia has still not published a report and in any case was “watered down before it even began.”

The comments were first brought to light by a concerned resident who claims to have first raised them with Conservative central office but, on failing to receive a response, then shared screenshots of the posts with Darwen Labour Party chair Matthew Gibson who decided to share them with the Lancashire Telegraph earlier this week.

Mr Gibson said: "I'm sure you’d agree that not only is this a disgusting statement to make, especially when elected MP Jo Cox was killed not that long ago, it is anti-democratic.

"No matter what anyone’s views about any politician, incitement to such violence is completely unacceptable in our democracy, we have always taken pride in being respectful to opponents."

Meanwhile, Hope Not Hate have said that Mr Walker must now be removed as a candidate.

A spokesperson said: “During the Conservative Party leadership contest, Boris Johnson and all other candidates committed to holding a specific inquiry into Islamophobia affecting the party.

"Many months later and that commitment has been watered down, we’re still waiting for the results of the resulting Singh inquiry, and we still have Conservative Party candidates sharing far-right memes and hatred against Muslims.

“In this day and age, no one can be in any doubt about the far-right rabble rouser ‘Tommy Robinson’, a multiply convicted violent criminal and fraudster, and it’s utterly unacceptable for any member of a political party, yet alone the party of government, to be enthusiastically endorsing his extremism.

“The Conservative Party must remove this candidate immediately, and expedite publishing the results of the inquiry into prejudice in the party.”

Mr Walker’s election agent for the Darwen South seat said they could not comment as the matter is under investigation by Tory central office.

The local elections are due to take place at various boroughs across East Lancashire and around the country on Thursday May 6.