Britain’s first female
Muslim Cabinet Minister is facing questions over trips to the Gulf
funded by the government of Saudi Arabia.
Tory party co-chairman
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi visited Saudi Arabia twice for a total of 20 days after
she became a member of David Cameron’s government. On one occasion she was
accompanied by her husband, the UK’s Daily Mail reported.
Baroness Warsi, who declared
the trips but did disclose the cost, has denied any wrongdoing, but the
opposition Labour party has called for her questioning.
“Lady Warsi still has
serious questions to answer. It is highly unusual for a Minister to go on an
overseas trip paid for by a foreign government,” Labour MP and former Defence
Minister Kevan Jones told the newspaper.
Separately Baroness Warsi
was last week accused of making improper expenses claims after claiming
taxpayers’ money for overnight stays in London during business visits to the
capital in 2008 when she was staying for free with a party colleague.
Baroness Warsi, who
describes herself as a “northern, working-class roots, urban, working mum”, is
widely seen as part of Cameron’s drive to re-brand the Conservative party and
broaden their appeal.
She became the first Muslim
woman to be selected by the Conservatives in 2005 and was elevated to the House
of Lords in 2007. In 2010, when Cameron took the post of prime minister, she was made party
chairman and given a seat at the cabinet table.
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