Rishi Sunak advised to drop ‘nasty’ Tory candidate over ‘canine whistle’ letter

Rishi Sunak is under pressure to drop a Tory candidate over a “divisive” letter highlighting his rival’s surname.

Marco Longhi, who is seeking re-election in Dudley North, sent a message to British Pakistani voters in his constituency. The letter asked them if Labour’s “Sonia KUMAR” would speak up for Kashmir in Parliament.

Her surname, which is a popular Indian surname, was in capital letters and underlined.

Labour Party Chair Anneliese Dodds said: “This is clearly inappropriate, divisive, dog whistle politics from the Conservatives. There is no place for such behaviour anywhere in our political system. Rishi Sunak needs to take action immediately. If he fails to do so, it will show his promise of professionalism, and accountability to be a hollow sham.”

The letter was targeted at British Pakistani voters

The letter was targeted at British Pakistani voters

Lord Austin, who used to represent the constituency, said: “This is completely unacceptable. When I was the MP for Dudley, I worked hard to fight racism and sectarian politics and to bring local people together. The people of Dudley are much better than this and I hope they reject this candidate and his nasty divisive politics.”

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Sunder Katwala of British Future said: “Different parties [and] candidates have in [the] past got into trouble making pitches to voters of one ethnicity/faith background that could harm the party if seen by voters of another background. It should not happen – esp[ecially] in such brazen prejudiced form. Obviously, any representative in parliament ought to be able to represent constituents of different ethnic and faith backgrounds. In my view any of the major parties should suspend a candidate for doing this.”

Mr Longhi did not respond to a request for comment. In a statement to the Guido Fawkes website, he said: “My constituents are concerned about issues in Kashmir. Do they trust me, who has campaigned on it, or someone they don’t know, who is Sonia Kumar?”