Boris Johnson facing party probe over burqa remarks

Lifestyle       by Asma Malik | Published

The party declined to comment on the disciplinary procedure.

But sources close to the Uxbridge MP made clear earlier this week that he stands by the article on Monday, in which he argued against a burka ban, but said that the garment was "oppressive" and "ridiculous".

Meanwhile those Tories going on the attack have tended to be Remainers, such as Brandon Lewis, Sayeeda Warsi, Anna Soubry, Heidi Allen, Jonathan Djanogly and Alistair Burt.

It is understood that the process is being triggered automatically after the receipt of a number of complaints over the former foreign secretary's comparison of Muslim women in face-covering veils with bank robbers or letter boxes. Some suspected Johnson's burqa comments were meant to boost his appeal among right-wing members of the party.

The Conservative party's website says suspension of membership or expulsion from the party are among the ultimate options open to its board on conclusion of a code of conduct investigation.

And an imam who has previously criticised the burka said Mr Johnson should not "apologise for telling the truth".

"It is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes", he wrote.

Why has Johnson been asked to apologise?

Mr Johnson also revealed he would "feel entitled" to ask a woman wearing the burka to remove it if she came to his constituency office.

Boris Johnson under fire for ‘hate’ burqa comments

He suggested that veils should not be allowed "if a female student turns up at school or at a university lecture looking like a bank robber", and businesses or branches of government should be able to "enforce a dress code that enables their employees to interact with customers ... human beings must be able to see each other's faces and read their expressions".

Latin-spouting, tousle-headed Johnson is a former mayor of London and one of Britain's best-known politicians.

"These were offensive comments but clever politics", she said.

"It is ridiculous that these views are being attacked - we must not fall into the trap of shutting down the debate on hard issues", said the source. "If we fail to speak up for liberal values then we are simply yielding ground to reactionaries and extremists".

Warsi said Johnson's comments were "yet another bid" for the Tory leadership, adding that "sadly, it appears that within my party, when parliamentarians make such comments it doesn't diminish their political status, it actually increases their political success".

Right-wing commentator Tim Montgomerie was among those to tweet his support for Johnson, saying: "I hope Boris doesn't apologise".

But it's also "impossible to ignore the fact that pretty much all the senior Tories who have criticised Johnson so far" voted Remain in the European Union referendum and that those lining up to defend him "are largely Brexiteers", says Politico.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said Johnson had been "rude and gratuitous" and "knew exactly what he was doing".

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