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Liz Truss: Rishi Sunak facing call to de-select former PM

Rishi Sunak has been called upon to remove Liz Truss from the list of Tory election candidates following her appearance on a platform established by a YouTuber known for making remarks about raping a Labour MP.

Jess Phillips of the Labour Party has penned a letter to the prime minister, stating that Carl Benjamin, the founder of Lotus Eaters, holds “abhorrent views on violence against women”.

In 2016, Mr. Benjamin posted on Twitter that he “wouldn’t even rape” Ms. Phillips, the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley.

In 2019, when he was a candidate for a UKIP MEP position, he declined to apologize for what he termed a “joke”. He later stated: “I’ve been in a lot of trouble for my hardline stance of not even raping her. I suppose with enough pressure I might cave. But let’s be honest, nobody’s got that much beer.”

In her letter, Ms. Phillips stated: “The influence of men like Benjamin on politics is significant. Men like Benjamin instill fear in female MPs and deter women from running for office in the future, thereby undermining our democracy.”

Mr. Benjamin has dismissed the characterization of him in the letter and retorted: “It’s ludicrous to think that the Conservative Party would even consider taking advice from a partisan socialist MP like Phillips.”

Ms. Truss is scheduled to appear on Lotus Eaters this afternoon.

The interview was conducted by host Connor Tomlinson, a member of the Conservative party, prior to the calling of the general election.

He accused Ms. Truss’s critics of attempting to “smear” her by labeling the platform as far-right, and asserted that she has “nothing to apologize for”.

A source close to Ms. Truss stated that she has “no relationship with Carl Benjamin”.

However, Ms. Phillips argued that Mr. Sunak has a duty to “maintain high standards among your MPs and candidates” and should prevent Ms. Truss from running in the election.

She described Lotus Eaters as a “far-right” and “hateful” platform and alleged that Mr. Benjamin, “in addition to these misogynistic views”, had propagated conspiracy theories about immigration.

She further stated: “It’s clear that anyone willing to appear on this hateful platform is not fit to be a candidate for any political party.

“If you have any decency, you will remove Liz Truss as the Conservative candidate for South West Norfolk. Anything less than this will demonstrate your weakness and the depths to which the Conservative Party has sunk.”

Sky News has reached out to the Conservative Party, Number 10, Ms. Truss, and Lotus Eaters for a comment.

Benjamin ‘attacked and misrepresented’

In response to the letter, Mr. Benjamin claimed on X that he was being “attacked and misrepresented”.

In an extensive statement, he asserted that he has “a long-standing record of activism to raise awareness of violence against women and girls where the politically correct consensus least likes to look” and that he takes the issue “very seriously”.

“It’s hard to believe that parliamentarians live in fear of YouTubers making jokes, when the apparently real threat of terrorism looms over their head,” he wrote.

He also refuted what he described as “misinformation” about his political views included in Ms. Phillips’ letter and denied that Lotus Eaters was a “hateful” platform.

He stated: “We are a popular and mainstream conservative publication, which is well-liked and well-respected by our peers, because of the work we do with them. It is natural that a conservative such as Liz Truss would want to speak to us to help facilitate an interesting exchange of ideas and for her to speak directly to the conservative base without fear.”

Ms. Phillips stated that she did not take lightly action that “will bring abuse and threat to my door” but “I have to stand up for what I think is right”.

Ms. Truss is fighting to retain her seat in South West Norfolk, which she has held since 2010.

Her 49-day tenure as prime minister – the shortest ever – ended after her package of unfunded tax cuts led to the Bank of England having to intervene to prevent pension markets from collapsing.

Since stepping down from the top job she has made numerous controversial media appearances.

In February she was accused of “propagating conspiracy theories’ after using a talk at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in the US to claim her efforts to reform the economy were “sabotaged” by the “administrative state and the deep state”.

She has also been criticized for participating in an interview with Donald Trump’s controversial former strategist Steve Bannon and remained silent as he praised former leader of the far-right English Defence League Tommy Robinson as a “hero”.

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