Rishi Sunak rejects Lee Anderson’s call for return of death penalty

Rishi Sunak has slapped down Lee Anderson after the new Conservative Party deputy chairman said he supported the death penalty.

Mr Anderson – promoted by Mr Sunak in Tuesday’s reshuffle – argued before his appointment that the death penalty had a “100 per cent success rate”.

When asked about the remarks during a visit to Cornwall, Mr Sunak told reporters: “That’s not my view, that’s not the Government’s view. But we are united in the Conservative Party in wanting to be absolutely relentless in bearing down on crime and making sure people are safe and feel safe.”

Asked why he did not support the death penalty, Mr Sunak implied that it was not necessary because the Government had “tightened up sentencing laws for the most violent criminals”.

He said: “They spend longer in prison… It’s why we’re on our way to having 20,000 more police officers on our streets and we’re giving those police officers more powers to tackle crime, whether it’s stop and search, or just this week in Parliament we are giving police officers the power to tackle violent and extremist protesters.”

Conservative Central Headquarters pointed to Mr Sunak’s comments as an indication that Mr Anderson’s view is not that of the Tory party.

In an interview with The Spectator prior to taking on his new role, the MP for Ashfield – known as the “Red Wall Rottweiler” – suggested that the killers of soldier Lee Rigby should have been executed in the “same week” as releasing their video confession.

Pressed on whether he supported the death penalty, Mr Anderson had said: “Yes. Nobody has ever committed a crime after being executed. You know that, don’t you? 100 per cent success rate.

“Now, I’d be very careful on that one because you’ll get certain groups saying: ‘You can never prove it.’ Well, you can prove it if they have videoed it and are on camera – like the Lee Rigby killers. I mean, they should have gone, same week. I don’t want to pay for these people.”

Mr Anderson also revealed that he had received “a couple of death threats”, which he said were currently being investigated by the police.

A YouGov poll in February last year found that Conservative voters are broadly in favour of capital punishment, with 58 per cent either strongly supporting or tending to support it. Thirty-four per cent strongly opposed or tended to oppose it.

Among the general public, the same poll found 36 per cent either strongly or broadly in favour, with 50 per cent against.

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