Connect with us


Boris Johnson stands by burka remarks, accusing colleagues of ‘confected indignation’



Boris Johnson has refused to apologise for comparing women wearing burkas to “bank robbers” and accused colleagues of whipping up “confected indignation” over the remarks. 

In a wide-ranging interview with Sky News, Mr Johnson also warned that the EU may go for Theresa May’s Brexit Chequers plan as it would be a “political triumph” for the bloc.

His comments come after he put forward an alternative Brexit plan, which he called a “Super Canada” option.

The former foreign secretary told Sky News he felt the burka row, and anger at his description of Theresa May’s Brexit plan as a “suicide vest”, has as much to do with people’s opposition to him over Brexit as to what he actually said.

Boris Johnson has backed Sky News' Make Debates Happen campaign
Boris Johnson refused to say if he was going to make a leadership bid

“I stand by what I wrote. I urge my friends and colleagues to look carefully at what I wrote,” he said.

“I think you’ll find invariably that there is an element of confected indignation about things that I’ve said that are wrenched out of context.

“In this particular context, what is going on is that people do feel a slight sense of uneasiness about the direction, more than a slight sense of uneasiness, real alarm about the direction of the Brexit negotiations.

“And they are conscious that I have a strong view about that and I think they are perhaps reacting to that as much as to anything else.”

Remainer Sir Alan Duncan said his “suicide vest” comment was one of “the most disgusting moments in British politics” and was the “political end” of Mr Johnson.

But Mr Johnson remained defiant, saying people were more upset with him pointing out that the UK constitution is “threatened by the Irish backstop agreement”.

His broadside against his critics came as he issued a rallying call to Brexiteers to step up efforts to get the prime minister to “chuck Chequers”, warning that the deal is a “political triumph” for the EU and one they might go for despite recent rhetoric.

The former foreign secretary told Sky News that Brussels will know that Chequers is “a great deal for them” as he urged the prime minister to change course on the eve of party conference.

“Yes, it’s true, formally speaking the EU has rejected Chequers because it breaks up their idea of the unity of single market,” he said.

“It is a great deal for them.

“Chequers, were it to be agreed, would be a political triumph for Brussels because what it would show is the UK, for all its power and might, and a £2tn economy that we were unable to claim political and economic independence.

“I think there’s people on my side of the argument who think ‘oh well, Brussels will never wear it’, but I fear Brussels may go for it.”

Mr Johnson made his pitch to the Conservatives on the eve of party conference, amid growing speculation that Mr Johnson is preparing a leadership bid.

But he insisted on Friday that this was all about changing the policy not the prime minister, refusing to be drawn on whether he is going to mount a bid for the top job.

Boris Johnson told Sky News' Beth Rigby he would not apologise for his Burka comments
Boris Johnson told Sky News’ Beth Rigby he would not apologise for his burka comments

Mr Johnson said he was focused on trying to get the prime minister to change course on Chequers – although he refused to endorse the prospect of her leading the Conservatives into another general election.

“That is a matter for her,” he said.

He added: “I can honestly say that if we can get this right now, and I do believe there’s a very good chance that we will, and we can revert to an optimistic self-confident vision of what this country can achieve, my cup will run over, it really will.”

Mr Johnson became the latest Tory to back Sky News’ Make Debates Happen campaign, as he said leaders’ TV debates during general elections should be “essential”.

He also called for multiple debates to ensure the public got to know its politicians.

Continue Reading
Advertisement Find your dream job