Theresa May refuses to condemn Boris Johnson for comparing Muslim women in burqas to ‘letter boxes’ and ‘bank robbers’

Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, listens during a visit to a Metropolitan Police wildlife crime unit in London

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Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, listens during a visit to a Metropolitan Police wildlife crime unit in London
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Thomson Reuters

  • Theresa May refuses to condemn Boris Johnson after the former foreign secretary compared Muslim women who wear the burqa to “letter boxes” and “bank robbers.”
  • Johnson wrote in a newspaper column: “It is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes.”
  • A spokesperson for Prime Minister May refused to condemn Johnson’s actions, and would only add: “We do not support a ban.”
  • Labour MP David Lammy called Johnson a “pound-shop [Donald] Trump.”

LONDON – Theresa May has refused to condemn Boris Johnson after he suggested that Muslim women who wear the burqa resemble “letter boxes” and “look like a bank robber” in a newspaper column.

The former foreign secretary said on Monday that the face-covering garment was “oppressive” and added: “It is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes.”

He added in the Telegraph column that any female student who appeared at school or in a lecture “looking like a bank robber” should be asked to remove it, but stopped short of calling for a full ban.

A spokesperson for Prime Minister May refused to condemn Johnson’s actions, and would only add: “We do not support a ban.”

Labour MP David Lammy described Johnson’s actions to those of a “pound-shop [Donald] Trump.”

“Muslim women are having their burkas pulled off by thugs in our streets & Boris Johnson’s response is to mock them for ‘looking like letter boxes,'” the Labour MP said on Monday.

“Our pound-shop Donald Trump is fanning the flames of Islamophobia to propel his grubby electoral ambitions.”

Johnson has a history of making inflammatory remarks and gaffes.

For example, he has described black people from Commonwealth countries as “flag-waving piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles” and gay people as “tank-topped bum boys,” and was forced to apologise after speaking about alcohol in a Sikh temple.

The former foreign secretary’s comments will be interpreted as part of a pitch to Conservative grassroots members for a potential Tory leadership contest as May’s popularity continues to plummet.

Johnson resigned in July in protest at May’s Brexit proposals and has positioned himself as an advocate for a harder form of Brexit.

He is also considering making a “significant intervention” into the Brexit debate in September ahead of the Conservative Party conference, according to a Sunday Times report.