The West Midlands MP who attended a party where friends allegedly chanted Nazi slogans should be expelled from the Conservative parliamentary party, according to a Labour MP.
Ian Austin (Lab Dudley North) has written to David Cameron and to Sayeeda Warsi, the Conservative Party chair, to demand details of an internal party investigation into the Cannock Chase MP Aidan Burley’s participation in a dinner at which guests toasted the Third Reich.
He said Mr Burley should be sacked from his role as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Justine Greening, the Transport Secretary, and stripped of the party whip, effectively throwing him out of the Tory group in the House of Commons.
Mr Burley (Con) has apologised after he was seen eating and drinking with 12 friends, some of whom chanted “Hitler, Hitler, Hitler”, at a stag party in France.
The MP was jokingly described as the “candidate for Berlin East” according to reports, and friends were said to raise toasts to the Third Reich and chanted “Mein Fuhrer”.
He did not join in with the Nazi comments but was not seen to object and did not leave the party, it was reported. At one point he was photographed sitting next to the groom, who was wearing an SS costume.
The group was filmed by a reporter and photographer from a Sunday newspaper who were in the resort researching a different story.
But he appears set to keep his role in the Department for Transport. Friends say he has apologised for his behaviour and there is no suggestion he is anti-semitic.
Some Tories have accused Labour of hypocrisy because Ed Balls, Labour’s shadow chancellor, holds a senior front bench post despite being photographed wearing a Nazi costume as a student in 1987
Mr Austin said: “Decent people will be sickened at the sight of an MP at a dinner where guests toasted the Third Reich and chanted their admiration for Hitler.
“The Conservative Party has said it is carrying out an investigation but their failure to remove him from his post means it looks like they’re just sweeping it under the carpet.
“I know Aidan Burley is a personal friend of the Prime Minister’s, but that is no reason for him to take no action. He should be removed from his government position immediately and have the Conservative Party whip withdrawn.”
The post of Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) is a junior position which involves assisting a minister. A PPS is not a minister themselves and not formally a member of the Government, although they are appointed by the Prime Minister and a list of PPS appointments is published by 10 Downing Street.
Mr Burly apologised in a statement released by the Conservative Party, which said: “There was clearly inappropriate behaviour by some of the other guests and I deeply regret that this happened. I am extremely sorry for any offence that will undoubtedly have been caused.”
A Conservative Party spokesman said there would be a full investigation into what had happened.
But the affair appeared to have affected his parliamentary duties, after he pulled out of a planned House of Commons appearance.
The MP had been due to quiz Theresa May, the Home Secretary, in a question and answer session but privately withdrew his question. It allowed him to avoid facing Labour MPs in the Chamber of the Commons.
He was backed this week by Stuart Polak, director of Conservative Friends of Israel, who said: “I have worked closely and travelled to Israel with Aidan Burley. I know him well and he does not have an anti-semitic bone in his body.”