- 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.