Tory leadership is under renewed pressure to combat the worrying levels of Islamophobic beliefs within the party, after HOPE not hate (HNH) polling reveals deep state of prejudice.

The YouGov study carried out by Hope Not Hate found that just 8% of the Conservative party’s members ‘would be proud of Britain, if we were to elect a Muslim as our prime minister’. Meanwhile, 43% agreed that they ‘would prefer to not have the country led by a Muslim’. The survey also revealed that over two-thirds of Tory members believe ‘there are areas in Britain that operate under Sharia law’.

HNH published an open letter to MPs and Conservative party leadership contenders Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, demanding they publicly commit to addressing the Islamophobia crisis within their party. Matthew McGregor, campaigns director at HOPE not hate, said: 
”The Conservatives have paid lip service by saying they have a zero tolerance to Islamophobia and anti-Muslim prejudice, but this new poll confirms they face a real crisis. From the grassroots to the great offices of state, Conservative members buy into racist myths.”

HNH had joined the calls of the Muslim Council of Britain and other groups to have an independent inquiry into the state of Islamophobia in the Conservative party. Both Johnson and Hunt have committed to holding an independent investigation into Islamophobia in the party, after Home Secretary Sajid Javid challenged all of the leadership candidates during a BBC TV debate to commit to an external investigation.

The Muslim Council of Britain has widely documented the instances of Islamophobia within the party, from MPs, to local councillors to simple party members. However, polling shows denial over the issue runs deep. The YouGov polling of 864 party members, carried out between 14-18 June shows just 8% of tory party members think there is a problem of Islamophobia or racism towards Muslims within the Conservative Party. 
Only 15% of members think the Conservative Party should be doing more to combat any Islamophobia or other racism within the party, compared to 76% who think the party is “already doing all it reasonably can to combat Islamophobia and racism within the party”.

Conservative leadership candidates Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt looking nonchalant during the leadership TV debate
Handout/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Nearly half of those surveyed said Britain should lower the number of Muslims entering the country, compared to just 5% who said the same for Christians or Jewish people. 

However, Theresa May refused to commit to an external inquiry into Tory Islamophobia when challenged during Prime Minister’s Questions on 26 June. Labour’s Khalid Mahmood MP asked about the “astounding level of racism” and asked whether the prime minister would “finally agree to commission an external inquiry into Islamophobia within her increasingly nasty party?” May dodged the question, saying the party already takes any allegation of Islamophobia “extremely seriously.”