The "poison" of Islamophobia is "very widespread" in the Conservative Party but is being “ignored” by Tory leaders, a former co-chair of the party has said.
Baroness Warsi said the problem was present at all levels of her party and claimed some of the Tories’ own campaigns had included anti-Muslim messages.
It follows calls for an investigation into Islamophobia in the party after a series of Conservative politicians were found to have made or shared offensive comments about Muslims.
The Independent has previously revealed that the Muslim Council of Britain has demanded an inquiry into the incidents - a call that was backed by groups representing 350 mosques and Muslim organisations.
Baroness Warsi, who co-chaired the party under David Cameron and then became a Foreign Office minister, is the latest Conservative figure to voice concerns about the issue.
She told Business Insider: "It's very widespread. It exists right from the grassroots, all the way up to the top.
"I don't think it's something that Theresa [May] is a part of, but I do believe it is something the leadership feels can be easily ignored."
She claimed Tory leaders are not taking the problem seriously because "they don't think it is going to damage them because that community doesn't vote for them in any great numbers."
She added: "I think that there is a general sense in the country that Muslims are fair game and it is not the kind of community where you can treat really badly and have many consequences. You can get any with it".