A Tory candidate who claimed British Jews who visited Israel returned "brainwashed" has been suspended by the party.

Amjad Bashir, who is standing for election in the Leeds North East constituency, apologised this week for the comments he made in the European Parliament as a Ukip MEP.

A pro-Brexit restaurateur who moved to Bradford from Pakistan in the early 1960s, Mr Bashir was elected as a Ukip MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber in 2014 before he defected to the Conservatives in 2015.

Mr Bashir was nominated for the politician of the year award at the British Muslim Awards in the same year.

Mr Bashir, who attended Thornton Grammar School and the University of Bradford, claimed that British Jews return from Israel as "extremists" and are "brainwashed" during a debate on Gaza in 2014.

A Conservative spokesman said: "Mr Bashir has been suspended from the party pending investigation and election support has been withdrawn."

On Monday, the Tory candidate for Aberdeen North Ryan Houghton was also suspended after comments emerged which referenced the views of discredited historian and Holocaust denier David Irving.

He apologised and said he "never held anti-Semitic or intolerant views".

In a speech to a European Parliament human rights sub-committee in September 2014, Mr Bashir said: "I am an MEP but still I am a man of conscience.

"I have been to Gaza in the early 1990s. I saw the despair then, the situation has got a lot worse and the situation has to be tackled, it has to be brought right. It's incumbent on us to put it right.

"As far as brainwashing by the rabbis and the politicians are concerned - I can testify to that.

"Young men are going over from England where I come from - people of the Jewish faith who my grandchildren have grown up with as decent young men.

"But have come back as extremists - as people that are brainwashed.

"They will not listen to reason. There is something very peculiar and wrong going on in Israel."

Mr Bashir said he intends to meet local Jewish groups and travel to Israel "to gain direct experience from the situation on the ground there".

In a letter to the Conservative Friends of Israel parliamentary chairman Lord Pickles and its honorary president Lord Polak, Mr Bashir apologised.

He wrote: "I want to make unambiguously clear that these are not views I hold now. I apologise unreservedly for the comments I made and the distress they have caused within the Jewish community and other groups.

"I am ready to meet with the Board of Deputies at their earliest possible convenience so they can hear from me directly. I also intend to meet with local Jewish community groups in Leeds North East. I recognise I owe them an apology in person.

"In due course, I plan to travel to Israel to meet with members of the community to gain direct experience from the situation on the ground there.

"The comments I made have caused hurt, for that I apologise unreservedly."

Mr Bashir reportedly opened his first restaurant in the Whetley Lane area of Bradford in the late 1970s. In 2011, he was described in the Telegraph & Argus as the owner of the Zouk Tea Bar and Grill in Leeds Road, Bradford.