Boris to apologise?

May thinks he should, but he refuses citing freedom of speech

Financial Times

Boris Johnson refuses to apologise for burka ‘letter box’ remark

Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary, has refused to apologise for suggesting Muslim women wearing burkas “look like letter boxes”.

He has come under fire from parliamentary colleagues but rejected calls from Brandon Lewis, Conservative party chairman, to retract his remark.

Theresa May, the UK prime minister, said Mr Johnson’s remarks had “clearly caused offence” and said she agreed with Mr Lewis.

Mrs May said: “I do think that we all have to be very careful about the language and terms we use. And some of the terms Boris used describing people’s appearance obviously have offended [ . . .] I believe women should be able to choose how they dress.”

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Is Boris just being Boris? Oh, please!

By Diane Cooke

"Is Boris just being Boris? Radio 4 asked after the foreign secretary's inflammatory burqa article appeared in The Telegraph.

Does the question even warrant being asked? Boris Johnson gets away with saying and doing anything he likes simply because that's the way he is?

We're not talking about a tearaway teen rebelling against the establishment here, but a supposedly intelligent and fiercely ambitious politician. He's treated like a naughty schoolboy and he uses it to his advantage.

From championing President Trump who rode rough-shod over Mrs May's Brexit plans, to undermining the prime minister more than once, Boris Johnson appears to be indestructible. Most MPs would have been escorted off the premises for much lesser misdemeanours.

Theresa May has told him to apologise for the offence caused to Muslim women who choose to wear full face veils. So too has Tory chairman, Brandon Lewis, but at the time of going to press Mr Johnson was unrepentant and refusing to say sorry. In fact he was saying "yah, boo sucks to you Mrs May and your soft-Brexit cronies."

Other Tories have joined Mr Lewis and Mrs May in condemning Mr Johnson's remarks saying he should have the party whip removed.

Lord Sheikh, a Conservative peer and the founder of the Conservative Muslim Forum, told BBC Newsnight the party should take "severe action".

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."

Mr Johnson has been reported to the equalities watchdog by Labour MP Jess Phillips, and to the police by a member of the public who accused him of "spreading hate crime".

However, a source close to the former London mayor 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," said the source.

"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."

Boris Johnson is not stupid, but he plays the part perfectly. He is neither bungling nor calamitous - apart from when he's negotiating the release of British citizens imprisoned in Iran. His unruly hair and devilish grin do not make him Dennis the Menace. He is a hard-headed right wing politician who has perfected the art of appealing to a certain section of the Tory party and society as a whole to further his ambitions of becoming prime minister.

Of course, he's not going to apologise.

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City AM

Conservative chairman Brandon Lewis demands Boris Johnson apologise as he's accused of 'bigotry' over burqa comments

Boris Johnson has been accused of "bigotry" and "dog-whistle politics" after he said Muslim women wearing full-face veils looked "like letter boxes".

The former foreign secretary yesterday faced a barrage of criticism after he penned a column for the Telegraph saying school teachers or university lecturers would be within their rights to refuse to talk to students who arrived at class "looking like a bank robber".

Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt this morning told the BBC: "I would never have made such a comment - I think there's a degree of offence in that.

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