Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson is refusing to apologise for the offensive comments he made about women who wear burkas.
The politician wrote an article in the Telegraph which likened women who wear burkas to ‘letter boxes’ and ‘bank robbers’.
The comments have been met with a wall of criticism and outrage, as well as demands for apology from both the Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis and the Prime Minister – but Johnson is refusing to say sorry.
Theresa May called for the politician to apologise, and agreed that his words were offensive.
As reported by Metro, the PM said:
There were certain terms that Boris used that caused offence…. I agree with Brandon Lewis.
Women should have the freedom to choose how they dress…. it’s very clear that the language that Boris used has offended people.
What is important is do we believe that people have the right to practise their religion, should have the right to choose – in the case of women, and the burka and the niqab – how they dress.
The founder and president of the Conservative Muslim Forum Lord Sheikh has said that the Conservative Party should take ‘severe action’ against the former foreign secretary.
Speaking on BBC’s Newsnight, he said:
Take the whip from him. Why not? He’s not a super human being, he’s a member of the party.
The party chairman, the prime minister has the right to take the whip… that’s the thing I’d like to see.
Former Conservative parliamentary candidate Shazia Awan-Scully has added to the wave of backlash surrounding Johnson’s comments, saying the politician should lose his job as a result of his words.
If you cast your mind back 50 years to when Enoch Powell gave his Rivers of Blood speech, he was sacked from the shadow cabinet immediately.
He was ostracised from his party immediately. Boris Johnson can say anything and get away with it.
These comments are Islamophobic. They are against Muslims and I would urge any Muslims to not vote for the Conservative party because of their stance towards our community.
Despite the outrage he has caused across the UK and throughout parliament, Johnson is refusing to apologise.
A source close to the politician said:
It is ridiculous that these views are being attacked – we must not fall into the trap of shutting down the debate on difficult issues.
We have to call it out. If we fail to speak up for liberal values then we are simply yielding ground to reactionaries and extremists.
Labour MP Jess Phillips has responded to this comment by saying simply that Boris Johnson is ‘just a racist’.
Happy to arrange debate with BJ about all the actions I’ve taken to stand up for liberal values including challenging things considered to be culturally sensitive. I’m not afraid to do that, I do it daily without being a racist. He’s done nothing to help he’s just a racist.
Happy to arrange debate with BJ about all the actions I've taken to stand up for liberal values including challenging things considered to be culturally sensitive. I'm not afraid to do that, I do it daily without being a racist. He's done nothing to help he's just a racist. https://t.co/7Q9Xv50EQh
— Jess Phillips (@jessphillips) August 7, 2018
Despite them appearing exactly in the context he wrote them, The Conservative Woman co-editor Laura Perrins tried to claim that Johnson’s remarks were taken out of context.
This idea the man should be run out of town is exactly the kind of authoritarian nonsense we must resist. It is not responsible.
Johnson has not yet commented himself on the situation.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.