Tory agent will not campaign anymore for candidate after JC exposes his 'brainwashed extremist' comment

Amjad Bashir, who is standing in Leeds North East, was revealed to have said British Jews were coming back 'brainwashed' after visiting Israel



The agent for the under-fire Leeds North East Tory election candidate has said he will not be doing any further campaigning for him after the JC revealed his “brainwashed extremist” remarks about British Jews.

Dan Cohen said he was angry and upset by a 2014 video of Amjad Bashir Bashir’s remarks that resurfaced, in which the then-Ukip MEP told the European Parliament: "Young men are going over from England - people of the Jewish faith who my grandchildren have grown up with as decent young men, but have come back as extremists - as people that are brainwashed.

"They will not listen to reason. There is something very peculiar and wrong going on Israel."

Mr Cohen told furious members of the Leeds Jewish community that Mr Bashir was appointed by the central party as the Conservative candidate for the December 12 election.

Mr Cohen said there should be an inquiry into why no selection process went ahead.

Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl was among those to condemn Mr Bashir's comments after the JC revealed them on Monday.

She said: “We are extremely concerned at the language used by Amjad Bashir, the Conservative candidate for Leeds North East, who described British Jews travelling to Israel and returning as ‘brainwashed extremists’, blaming ‘rabbis and politicians’.

“We would urge the Conservative party to consider the suitability of allowing someone who has publicly aired such repellent views to stand as their candidate anywhere, let alone in a constituency with a vibrant Jewish community.”

Many local members of the Jewish community called for Mr Bashir to be withdrawn as the Tory candidate – but with nominations now closed it would be impossible to replace him on the ballot.

There were also calls for Mr Cohen to resign as his agent – but again this was not allowed under election rules, although it is possible for Mr Bashir to remove him as an agent.

Angelo Basu, who chairs the Leeds North West Conservative Association, told the JC: "From a personal perspective, I can’t begin to express my disgust and disappointment at the comments from our Leeds North East candidate and am confident this view is shared by my colleagues."

Mr Bashir issued a statement saying: "I deeply regret the comments I made around brainwashing - this was borne from a personal experience but it was completely wrong and I apologise unreservedly for it."

The JC has learned that Ms Bashir was forced to deny he was a member of George Galloway’s Respect Party in 2012.

When Mr Bashir was welcomed back into the Conservatives in 2015, Grant Schapps praised his “successful” defection from Ukip.

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