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Rishi Sunak urged to deselect Liz Truss as Conservative South West Norfolk candidate over Lotus Eaters interview

Rishi Sunak has been urged to deselect Liz Truss as a Conservative candidate over her appearance on a “far-right” platform founded by a commentator who joked about raping an MP.

An interview with former prime minister and South West Norfolk MP Ms Truss has today been streamed on Lotus Eaters, set up by Carl Benjamin.

Jess Phillips, the former shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, has written to Mr Sunak to criticise the move.

South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss. Picture: Ian Burt
South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss. Picture: Ian Burt

The Labour MP highlighted Mr Benjamin’s “despicable views about violence against women” after he told her some years ago he “wouldn’t even rape you”.

In her letter to the Prime Minister, Ms Phillips wrote: “It is clear that anyone willing to appear on this hateful platform is not suitable to be a candidate for any political party. Even Reform UK deselected one of its candidates after his harmful views and work as a content creator for Lotus Eaters was exposed.

“If you have any decency, you will deselect Liz Truss as Conservative candidate for South West Norfolk. Anything less than this will show how weak you are and how far the Conservative Party has sunk.”

The Lotus Eaters website says Ms Truss is appearing on its Tomlinson Talks show with Conservative Party member Connor Tomlinson, who has a slot on Lotus Eaters, to discuss her book, Ten Years To Save The West.

She recorded the interview before the General Election was called and has no relationship with Mr Benjamin, it is understood.

But campaign group Hope Not Hate said it is “completely irresponsible” for any MP or candidate to share a platform with “far-right activists” and called for Ms Truss to be suspended from the Conservative Party.

Ms Phillips, MP for Birmingham Yardley, wrote: “Today, former Prime Minister Liz Truss, a Conservative candidate in the upcoming general election, will be interviewed on the far-right platform ‘Lotus Eaters’, founded by Carl Benjamin, an extreme far-right commentator.

Labour MP Jess Phillips. Photo: Mark Williamson
Labour MP Jess Phillips. Photo: Mark Williamson

“Benjamin has despicable views about violence against women. When I highlighted the volume of rape threats received by female MPs, including myself, Benjamin responded, ‘I wouldn’t even rape you’, later adding ‘There’s been an awful lot of talk about whether I would or wouldn’t rape Jess Phillips. I suppose with enough pressure I might cave, but let’s be honest nobody’s got that much beer.’

“The impact men like Benjamin have on politics cannot be understated. Men like Benjamin make female MPs live in fear, while discouraging women from standing in future, weakening our democracy in the process.

“You have a responsibility as leader of your party to uphold high standards among your MPs and candidates, and you have a responsibility as Prime Minister to foster a safe environment for MPs, particularly female MPs who face ever-increasing rates of abuse and threat.”

Labour has previously called for Ms Truss to have the Tory whip removed after her attendance at the Conservative Political Action Conference in the US earlier this year.

The former Tory leader later took part in an interview with Steve Bannon, who served as a senior White House aide to former Republican president Donald Trump, and she remained silent as he hailed English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson as a “hero”.

Hope Not Hate campaigns director Georgie Laming said: “It is completely irresponsible for any MP or candidate to share a platform with Lotus Eaters and their band of conspiracy theorists and far-right activists.

“This isn’t the first time Liz Truss has flirted with the far-right, she must be immediately suspended from the Conservative Party.”

Mr Benjamin, who gained a large YouTube following under the name Sargon of Akkad, failed in his bid to get elected to the European Parliament as a Ukip candidate in 2019 following his comments about Ms Phillips.

He launched Lotuseaters.com in 2020.

Mr Benjamin has said, in a post on x: “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.

“Why the Conservative Party would even consider taking lectures from a partisan socialist MP like Phillips is too absurd to contemplate.”

Ms Truss’ team was approached for comment.

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