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Sunday, 7 October, 2001, 15:27 GMT 16:27 UK
Tory MPs resign from far-right club
Shadow chancellor Michael Howard
Michael Howard: No room for 'extremist views'
Three Conservative MPs have resigned from the right-wing Monday Club on the instructions of new leader Iain Duncan Smith, the BBC has learned.

Shadow chancellor Michael Howard has confirmed that Andrew Rosindell, Andrew Hunter and Angela Watkinson have been asked to leave the club.

The controversial pressure group, made up of about 3,000 Conservative Party members and supporters, calls for the voluntary repatriation of immigrants.

Monday Club logo
Club logo. The club calls for voluntary repatriation

Mr Howard told BBC One's On The Record programme that the three MPs had been "asked to resign and they have".

Mr Howard said that party chairman, David Davis, would be meeting with the chairman of the Monday Club after the Tory Party conference, to discuss its future position.

It is possible all Conservatives could be barred from involvement in the club.

The Monday Club, which was set up in the 1960s over the decolonisation of Africa, also lobbies on other issues such as capital punishment.

Mr Howard said: "One thing is absolutely clear. There is no room for extremist views in the Conservative Party."

Romford MP Andrew Rosindell
Andrew Rosindell: 'Political correctness'

The move comes after John Bercow, appointed shadow chief treasury secretary by Mr Duncan Smith, called for the party to be purged of Monday Club members.

BBC correspondent Shaun Ley said Iain Duncan Smith would be trying to make his mark as a leader of a modern and tolerant party at the coming conference.

And he said that although the Monday Club was no longer a significant political force, sending a message against it would be a powerful "totem".

'Not enough'

The move has not been swift enough to appease black Tory peer Lord Taylor of Warwick, who questioned the delay.

"This is a sign of weak leadership," he said. "There is no reason for discussion.

"The Conservative Party leader should announce during the conference that membership of both [the party and the club] is incompatible.

"There is a battle going on for the hearts and minds of the Tory Party.

Lord Taylor of Warwick
Lord Taylor: 'Why delay?'
"Unless the Conservative Party engages with modern Britain and rejects its blinkered prejudice it will continue to lose the support of the British people."

Andrew Rosindell, the Romford MP who is apparently quitting the group, said the move could be divisive.

"The symbolic action that the Conservative Party need to take is to prove that we as a party want everybody to support us and to join us and to be candidates," he said.

"I don't think we should single out one group or another group and say we don't want you or we want you."

"We're not going to start going down the route of political correctness."

See also:

07 Oct 01 | Conservatives
Drop Thatcher, Duncan Smith urged
28 Aug 01 | UK Politics
Duncan Smith denies extremist support
06 Oct 01 | UK Politics
Tories deny ignoring black vote
05 Oct 01 | Conservatives
Tories' crisis conference
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