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Boris Johnson called a ‘racist’ as his past remarks are read out in Commons | Politics News

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Conservative leadership frontrunner Boris Johnson has been called a “racist” in the House of Commons and accused of “stoking division”.

In a fierce assault on the Tory candidate, who is widely expected to be the next prime minister, the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford listed a series of Mr Johnson’s past remarks.

Mr Blackford claimed the former foreign secretary is “not fit” to enter 10 Downing Street and challenged Theresa May to offer her own view on the man who could replace her.

During Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Blackford drew attention to a poem published by The Spectator magazine in 2004, which was edited at the time by Mr Johnson.

The poem described “The Scotch” as “a verminous race”, adding: “It’s time Hadrian’s Wall was refortified.

“To pen them in a ghetto on the other side. I would go further. The nation deserves not merely isolation. But comprehensive extermination.”

Mr Blackford asked Mrs May whether she agreed with those words, to which the prime minister replied: “The Conservative and Unionist Party takes the people of every part of this United Kingdom not only seriously, but we welcome the contribution from people of every part of this United Kingdom.”

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London.
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The SNP’s Ian Blackford refused to withdraw his remarks

Responding that “words and actions matter”, Mr Blackford continued: “The man who published those words in his magazine, the prime minister thought was fit for the office of our top diplomat.

“And he hasn’t stopped there, he said that Scots should be banned from being prime minister… and that a pound spent in Croydon was worth more than a pound spent in Strathclyde.

“This is a man who is not fit for office.”

To jeers from Tory MPs, Mr Blackford added: “Does the prime minister realise not only is the member [Mr Johnson] racist, but he is stoking division in communities and has a record of dishonesty?”

This prompted Commons Speaker John Bercow to urge Mr Blackford to be “extremely careful in the language he uses” and advise he withdraw his remarks.

“I don’t think this is the forum and I don’t think it’s the right way to behave,” Mr Bercow said.



Boris Johnson 'sorry' for offence of past comments



Johnson’s apology for past ‘offensive’ remarks

Mr Blackford refused, but revealed he had alerted Mr Johnson to his planned comments prior to PMQs.

He continued: “The member has called Muslim women ‘letterboxes’, described African people as having ‘watermelon smiles’ and another disgusting slur that I would never dignify by repeating.

“If that’s not racist, I don’t know what is.”

Mr Blackford then asked Mrs May whether she “honestly” believed Mr Johnson “is fit for the office of prime minister”, to which she replied: “I believe any Conservative prime minister in the future will be better for Scotland than the SNP.”

Speaking to Sky News afterwards, Mr Blackford explained why he had not withdrawn his remarks when asked.

“In this place, if we cannot call out someone like Boris Johnson for what he has said then parliament, quite frankly, is not doing its job,” he said.

“It really is important that Boris Johnson is held to account for the things that he’s said.”

In response to a point of order raised by Conservative backbencher Bill Wiggin after PMQs, Mr Bercow explained to MPs that the word “racist” is “not of itself unparliamentary”.

The speaker added: “The issue is to judge context and to make an assessment of what is seemly in the chamber.

“I made my own assessment and I advised the House accordingly.”

Sky News did not receive a reply when seeking a response from Mr Johnson’s spokesman.

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