Boris Johnson told to apologise for burka jibe

Leroy Wright
August 8, 2018

Theresa May has waded into the row over Boris Johnson's claim that Muslim women in burkas resemble letter boxes and bank robbers, urging the former foreign secretary to apologise after he defied an order to do so by Tory chiefs.

He said: "Take the whip from him".

"It is crass and it must stop, and it must be condemned by the leadership right from the Prime Minister down".

Labour MP Jess Phillips said she would report Mr Johnson to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

There was no immediate sign Mr Johnson planned to back down. Boris Johnson can say anything and get away with it.

She suggested the Mr Johnson take part in "training and engagement with the Muslim community" and accused his party of having "an issue with Islamophobia" while pointing out Theresa May had not responded more than 24 hours after the publication.

She said: "This idea the man should be run out of town is exactly the kind of authoritarian nonsense we must resist".

Former Tory chair Baroness Warsi labelled the remarks "bigotry" and accused Mr Johnson of adopting the "dog-whistle" tactics of former Donald Trump aide Steve Bannon in the hope of attracting support from right-wing Tories for an eventual leadership bid.

A source close to Mr Johnson made it clear he was standing by his comments.

The former foreign secretary is understood to view the instruction as an attempt to shut down debate on a hard issue that should be tackled head-on.

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'We have to call it out.

'It is ridiculous that these views are being attacked, ' the source said, adding: 'If we fail to speak up for liberal values then we are simply yielding ground to reactionaries and extremists'.

Mr Johnson admitted he had received a "kick in the pants" from Mr Howard and promised to go to the city in a "spirit of complete humility".

After initially refusing to recant, Mr Johnson finally came to the Commons to admit his "mistake" and to apologise for the "distress and anguish" his words had caused.

"I'm not afraid to do that, I do it daily without being a racist".

She said his remarks "clearly caused offence".

"When Muslim women are being attacked in the street, his comments are unsafe and can not be laughed off", she said.

He said he opposed a ban on the face-covering veils, but described them as "absolutely ridiculous" and compared their wearers to rebellious teenagers.

And Ms Dorries said the former foreign secretary "did not go far enough".

Labour has warned of a rise in far-right politics after Boris Johnson made inflammatory comments about Muslim women who wear face veils. "I wish he hadn't accompanied it with a comment that I certainly wouldn't make and I think many people would find offensive, yes".

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