The leader of the Conservatives in Burnley has said MP Lee Anderson should not have been suspended over Islamophobic comments directed at Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Ashfield MP Lee Anderson, a former Tory party deputy chair, was reprimanded over the weekend after he claimed ‘Islamists’ had ‘got control’ of Labour mayor Mr Khan and London.

Anderson drew condemnation from opposition parties for his comments, which also saw him suspended by his party. 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Anderson's comments were wrong but didn't go as far to say they were Islamophobic.

Councillor Alan Hosker, leader of the Burnley Conservatives, posted the comments online which called for Lee Anderson to be reinstated.

Cllr Hosker's comments were in response to an article entitled '"Muslims are fair game when it comes to racism": Sadiq Khan slams PM for failing to condemn Lee Anderson comments'.

He posted: “Disappointed about this and I am not the only one.

"Lee Anderson should not be suspended. Other Cllrs and MPs are also not happy.

"Maybe time for change at the top and then call an election. Hopefully get MPs like Lee with more bottle. And Labour in the answer (sic) my opinion only.”

In further messages in response to other people congratulating Lee Anderson, Cllr Hosker said the PM needed to get a cabinet "with guts and put the folk of our country first, instead of treating us like second class citizens".

When challenged over being racist by one commenter, Cllr Hosker added: "Thing is we say or do anything and why is it the racist card comes out?

"Not racist to want our country to be put first."

It follows a tumultuous few days for the Conservatives. In an appearance on GB News on Friday, Mr Anderson had said: “I don’t actually believe that the Islamists have got control of our country, but what I do believe is they’ve got control of Khan and they’ve got control of London… He’s actually given our capital city away to his mates.”

This itself followed comments made by Suella Braverman who wrote in The Daily Telegraph on Friday, and suggested that the UK was “sleepwalking into a ghettoised society where Sharia law, the Islamist mob and antisemites take over communities”.

On Monday, Mr Anderson told GB News, where he has a reported £100,000 second job: “When you think you are right you should never apologise because to do so would be a sign of weakness.”

Labour group leader in Burnley, Cllr Mark Townsend, said: “How the Conservatives deal the serious problem of Islamophobia in their party is a matter for them.”

In response to the row, Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “It shouldn’t be hard to call out comments that are so unambiguously ignorant, prejudiced and racist.

"Yet those at the top of the Conservative Government are stubbornly refusing to do so.

"It’s a tacit endorsement of anti-Muslim hatred and can only lead to the conclusion that anti-Muslim bigotry and racism are not taken seriously.”

The Prime Minister declined to criticise former home secretary Suella Braverman, who claimed “the Islamists, the extremists and the antisemites are in charge now”.

Mr Sunak said Mr Anderson had been deprived of the Tory whip because his “choice of words wasn’t acceptable, it was wrong”.

But he refused to describe the MP’s comments as Islamophobic when pressed repeatedly saying: “I think the most important thing is that the words were wrong, they were ill-judged, they were unacceptable.

“It’s important that everybody, but particularly elected politicians, are careful with their words and do not inflame tensions.”

Cllr Hosker was contacted to clarify his comments on social media.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson told reporters on Tuesday: “The Prime Minister responded to these questions yesterday, he doesn’t believe that the individual is a racist but the language he used was wrong and it’s unacceptable obviously to conflate all Muslims with Islamist extremism or the extreme ideology of Islamism.

“That’s why the PM regarded those comments as wrong and unacceptable.”

The spokesperson also said ministers had not been instructed not to use the term “Islamophobia”, adding: “We, the Government, as previously stated, can’t accept the APPG’s definition of Islamophobia, which conflates race with religion, does not address sectarianism within Islam and may inadvertently undermine freedom of speech.

“So, anti-Muslim hatred is the more precise term which better reflects UK hate crime legislation, but again as discussed yesterday we’ve always been clear that the Government does not and will not tolerate anti-Muslim hatred in any form, and will continue to combat such discrimination and intolerance wherever it occurs.”