RISHI Sunak has distanced himself from calls to bring back the death penalty after his new Tory deputy said the worst murderers should be executed.
But the intervention pitted him against several Red Wall MPs who today agreed with Lee Anderson that the most evil criminals must pay the ultimate price.
Lee Anderson has said he would support the return of the death penalty
Within days of being promoted to deputy party chairman the Ashfield MP caused controversy with an impassioned case for capital punishment.
He told the Spectator: “Nobody has ever committed a crime after being executed. You know that, don’t you? 100 per cent success rate.”
The death penalty was abolished in 1969, with the last hanging happening in 1964.
The PM yesterday distanced himself from the remarks, insisting: “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.”
Yet he was hit by a party uprising as fellow Tories swung behind Mr Anderson’s hardline stance.
Declaring his support for the death penalty, Bassetlaw MP Brendan Clarke-Smith said: “For many of us there will be some crimes where a prison sentence simply doesn’t seem enough.”
Pointing to polling showing public support, he added: “It therefore seems strange that support for capital punishment is portrayed by many in the public eye as being some sort of extreme and minority held opinion.
“In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, you could say Lee’s view is the mainstream one.”
Mansfield MP Ben Bradley was “pretty confident that the vast majority in communities I represent would be quite happy to see a death penalty available for the most heinous crimes”.
The Red Waller told the Sun: “The outrage that some London Liberal commentators have expressed to what Lee said just reinforces how out of touch they are with the country north of Watford.”
Another piled in: ” As much as sections of the establishment might try and pretend Lee’s view is a fringe view, it isn’t. It’s a view shared by millions.”
Tory MP Nickie Aitken, Mr Anderson’s co-deputy, piled in: “If the intelligentsia want to go on and criticise him – basically if they criticise Lee for his views, they are criticising a huge swathe of his constituents.”
Cabinet Minister Penny Mordaunt also refused to criticise Mr Anderson in the Commons yesterday, praising him for standing up for his voters.
Mr Anderson, a former miner and Labour councillor, also railed against Britain’s asylum system and said small boat migrants should be sent back the “same day”.
He said: “I’d put them on a Royal Navy frigate or whatever and sail it to Calais, have a stand-off. And they’d just stop coming.”
Yesterday he doubled down his view that illegal immigration was the “number one” issue but said he respected “collective responsibility” and would be making his case “behind closed doors”.
Meanwhile Mr Anderson courted further controversy following an on-air spat with a BBC radio presenter.
Downing Street insisted the Tory deputy did not speak for the Government and was a political appointee.