News World Splits deepen over Johnson's burqa comments

Splits deepen over Johnson’s burqa comments

Former British foreign minister Boris Johnson returned from his summer holiday to face both criticism and support over his remarks about burqas, amid deepening divisions in Britain’s ruling Conservative Party on Sunday.

Johnson, seen as the biggest threat to Prime Minister Theresa May’s struggling leadership, has become a lightning rod for discontent within the party after a newspaper column in which he said Muslim women who wear burqas look like letter boxes or bank robbers.

The comments came in a piece arguing against a ban on the Islamic full-face veil, but have been criticised as Islamophobic. Others saw the remarks as colourful rhetoric that strikes a chord with many Britons.

May has scolded Johnson, stirring anger amongst those of his supporters who see him as the focal point for resistance to her proposed “business-friendly” Brexit plan. The party has also launched an investigation into his remarks.

Under the headline “Boris sparks cabinet war” the Sunday Times said four unnamed senior ministers were dismayed at May’s handling of the situation.

“They have managed to engineer a total disaster,” one minister was quoted as saying. “Trying to silence Boris is stupid, especially when the majority of people agree with him.”

Johnson resigned from the cabinet last month in protest at May’s Brexit plan, setting himself up as a talisman for the many Conservatives who want a more radical departure from the European Union.

Meanwhile, May has struggled to hold her cabinet together on Brexit and faces a testing few months in which she hopes to secure a deal on leaving the EU, face the party’s unhappy grassroots, and win a crucial vote in parliament.

Johnson’s burqa remarks were defended by, amongst others, Donald Trump’s former political strategist Steve Bannon, who told the Sunday Times that his overall message had been lost because of a “throwaway line”.

Bannon has previously called on Johnson to challenge May’s leadership.

But a Conservative member of the upper house of parliament and former government polling adviser, Andrew Cooper, accused Johnson of “moral emptiness” and populism over the remarks.

“The rottenness of Boris Johnson goes deeper even than his casual racism & his equally casual courting of fascism. He will advocate literally anything to play to the crowd of the moment,” Cooper said on Twitter.

Johnson, who has made clear that he does not intend to apologise, returned to Britain on Saturday. He declined to answer reporters’ questions.

His is expected to break his silence in his regular column, due to be published by the Telegraph newspaper late on Sunday.

Top Stories

Police hand out 27 fines for violation of covid-19 measures

Police booked six establishments and 21 individuals all across Cyprus over the past 24 hours for violation of measures to contain the spread of...

Protest against Chile’s government

A protester gestures while a church is set on fire during a protest against Chile's government, on the one-year anniversary of the protests and...

Millennials get little satisfaction from democracy – Cambridge study

Young people are less satisfied with democracy and more disillusioned than at any other time in the past century, especially in Europe, North America,...

Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 40.06 million

More than 40.06 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 1,113,218​ have died, according to a Reuters...

EU to launch infringement procedures against Cyprus, Malta over “golden passports”

The European Commission on Tuesday will finalize and launch infringement procedures against Cyprus and Malta in relation to their controversial  “golden passport” schemes. The schemes...

Taste

Squash soup

Ingredients: 1 kg pumpkin, cut into small cubes, approximately 5 cups 2 medium (400g) sweet potatoes, cut into cubes, approximately 2 ½ cups 1 chopped leek, only...

Mezedes

No visit to Cyprus is complete without enjoying the traditional meal of many small dishes known as ‘meze’. This large feast, which has been a...

Prawns with fried cheese, barley shaped pasta

Put the barley shaped pasta into a small pan with salted water, bring to a boil and when tender, drain. Peal the prawns leaving...

Salmon and shrimp sheftalies

Mix all ingredients for tabbouli in a bowl and keep to one side so flavours can combine. Prepare the sheftalies: wash and soak the casing...