Wednesday, 20 February, 2019

United Kingdom: 100 Muslim women seek Johnson's ouster from Tories

FILE Boris Johnson United Kingdom: 100 Muslim women seek Johnson's ouster from Tories
Melinda Barton | 12 August, 2018, 21:42

The row over Britain's former foreign secretary Boris Johnson's disparaging remark comparing burqa-clad women to letter boxes and bank robbers refuses to die down, forcing the Conservative party to launch disciplinary action against him today.

The Independent understands that following the complaints, party chiefs must now decide whether the allegation is serious enough to establish an investigatory panel to ascertain whether Mr Johnson has broken the party's code of conduct. "One day, I am sure, they will go". He is instead more likely to be told.

Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis and leader Theresa May have both called on Johnson to apologize for his comments.

The internal Tory process looking at Mr Johnson's comparison of Muslim women in face coverings with "bank robbers" or "letter boxes" was automatically triggered on Thursday after party headquarters received several complaints.

In a letter to The Times, he wrote: "You should really only apologise for a bad joke".

Senior Conservative figures attacked the prime minister after the party confirmed that following a series of complaints, Mr Johnson is to face a full investigation.

"As a lifelong beneficiary of the freedom to make jokes about religion, I do think that Boris Johnson's joke about wearers of the burqa resembling letter boxes is a pretty good one", Atkinson wrote in a letter to the London Times newspaper, published on Friday. "On that basis, no apology is required".

"Unfortunately under the new code of conduct, if a formal complaint is lodged - and I believe that reports say Lord Sheikh, a conservative peer, has lodged a formal complaint - it has to be investigated".

But sources close to the former foreign secretary made clear earlier this week he stands by Monday's article, in which he argued against a burka ban, but said the face-covering veil was "oppressive" and "ridiculous".

Joining Julia Hartley-Brewer on talkRADIO, he said: "I think a lot of your listeners will be deeply anxious about the state of our democracy and free speech".

"The burka and niqab are ugly tribal ninja-like garments that are pre-Islamic, non-Koranic and therefore un-Muslim".

Critics claim Johnson is using the burqa comments to boost his appeal among right- wing members of the party. "But I think what's important is that the procedures of the party now take place", Mr Mitchell told BBC's Newsnight.

Some Brexiteer MPs claimed the complaints were politically driven by those who disagree with Mr Johnson over the European Union, while others warned that pursuing him would tear the party apart.