Senior Tory calls for Boris Johnson to be kicked out of the party

Remainers stick the knife into Boris Johnson as they pile in to demand he apologise for comparing women wearing the burqa to letterboxes or face being kicked out of the Tories

  • Former foreign secretary branded full face covering ‘ridiculous’ in his column 
  • Mr Johnson’s remarks have prompted cross-party calls for him to apologise
  • Remainers across the Tory party queued up to condemn him over remarks 
  • Tory peer Lord Sheikh said he should have the Conservative whip removed   
  • Column came after the face covering ban in Denmark which sparked protests 

Boris Johnson is today coming under growing pressure from Remainers to apologise for his burqa comments – or face being kicked out of the party.

The former Foreign Secretary and leading Brexiteer sparked fury saying that women wearing the head coverings look like ‘letter boxes’ or ‘bank robbers’.

And as the row rages for the third day, a string of Tory Remainers have publicly stuck the knife into Mr Johnson – demanding he apologise.

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson today became the latest to publicly demand Mr Johnson say sorry for the ‘gratuitously offensive’ comments as she spoke at an event at the Edinburgh fringe festival.

Other leading Tory Remainers, including Conservative chairman Brandon Lewis, Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt and Remainer rebel Heidi Allen, also demanded an apology.

And Tory peer Eric Pickles, a former Conservative party chairman and minister, today said it is possible Mr Johnson will face disciplinary action over the remarks. 

Meanwhile, Tory peer Lord Sheikh, president of the Conservative Muslim Forum, has written to party bosses demanding he is kicked out of the party – known as having the whip removed.

Tory Brexiteers Nadine Dorries and Andrew Bridgen and ex Ukip leader Nigel Farage, have all defended Mr Johnson over the comments.

The ex Foreign Secretary sparked a furious row after he compared women wearing the head veils to 'letterboxes' and 'bank robbers'.

Burqas have been banned in several countries - inducing Denmark

Boris Johnson (pictured left) has faced mounting calls to apologise after his controversial comments about burqas (pictured right) – but he is showing no signs of U-turning

Conservative peer Lord Sheikh (pictured on ITV's Good Morning Britain this morning) has furiously attacked Boris Johnson's comments  and warned they risk fuelling Islamophobia 

Conservative peer Lord Sheikh (pictured on ITV’s Good Morning Britain this morning) has furiously attacked Boris Johnson’s comments  and warned they risk fuelling Islamophobia 

Tory MP Brandon Lewis, the current Tory party chairman, has also criticised the comments and said he has asked Mr Johnson to apologise.

Ruth Davidson has backed calls for Boris Johnson to apologise over his "gratuitously offensive" comments on the burka.

Tory Remainers Brandon Lewis (pictured left) and Ruth Davidson (pictured right) have called for Boris Johnson to apologise a the row continues to rage

Tory peer Lord Sheikh, president of the Conservative Muslim Forum,  (pictured on Newsnight yesterday) wrote to party bosses demanding he is kicked out of the party - known as having the whip removed

Tory peer Lord Sheikh, president of the Conservative Muslim Forum,  (pictured on Newsnight yesterday) wrote to party bosses demanding he is kicked out of the party – known as having the whip removed

Denmark's new face veil ban is likely to apply to the niqab and burqa - not the hijab and chador

Denmark’s new face veil ban is likely to apply to the niqab and burqa – not the hijab and chador

He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain this morning that the comments were ‘offensive’ and will inflame bigotry. 

Lord Sheikh last night told BBC One’s Newsnight programme that ‘severe action’ must be taken against Mr Johnson.

He said: ‘Take the whip from him. Why not? He’s not a super human being, he’s a member of the party.

What have Tory MPs said about Boris Johnson’s burqa comments and where do they stand on Brexit?

Conservative Remainer MPs have seized on Boris Johnson’s comments about the burqa to publicly criticise him.

Here are the Tory MPs who have commented and where they stand on Brexit: 

Theresa May (Remainer)

‘I am very clear, and the Government is very clear about our position on the burka, which is that women should be able to choose how to dress.

‘It’s up to a women how they should dress. It’s not up to other people to tell a woman how to dress.

‘But obviously these issues are ones that are openly discussed and it’s right that we have discussion about issues like this.’

Brandon Lewis (Remainer)

‘I agree with Alistair Burt. I have asked Boris Johnson to apologise.’  

Alistair Burt (Remainer)

‘I think there is a degree of offence in that… the point he was trying to make was the government will not enforce any clothing restriction.’

Eric Pickles (Remainer)

Said Mr Johnson should not have used ‘illiberal language’, and added: ‘I think the sensible thing would be for him to apologise.’ 

Jeremy Wright (Remainer)

‘I think we should all choose our language with care.’  

Anna Soubry (Remainer)

‘Well said Alistair Burt. Boris Johnson’s comments on what some Muslim women choose to wear are offensive – IMHO [in my humble opinion]they fuel Islamaphobia.’

Heidi Allen (Remainer)

‘About as suitable to be PM as he was Foreign Secretary’ 

Paul Masterton  (Remainer)

‘No one is shutting down debate. They are pointing out it’s possible to argue for empowerment and religious freedom of women and girls, come to the view you are against a ban on the Burqa in public places (as he did), all without mocking women who do wear one for their appearance.’

Baroness Warsi (Remainer)

‘Muslim women should not be a useful political battleground for old Etonians.

‘This has happened before it is crass and it must be condemned by the leadership, right from the Prime Minister down.’

Penny Mordaunt (Brexiteer)

Among the few Brexiteers to criticise Boris Johnson.

‘Brandon Lewis has done the right thing. Remember only two things are the case: either a woman wants to wear the niqab, or she does not.’

‘The party chairman, the Prime Minister has the right to take the whip… that’s the thing I’d like to see.’ 

Mr Johnson is facing huge pressure to apologise for his controversial remarks, made in his weekly Daily Telegraph column on Monday.

And Remainers have queued up to condemn him.

Leading Tory Remainer rebel Anna Soubry said: ‘Boris Johnson’s comments on what some Muslim women choose to wear are offensive – IMHO [in my humble opinion]they fuel Islamaphobia.’

Ms Davidson said: ‘I think it’s also not been shown through history that when men make sweeping statements about what women should or shouldn’t wear that it goes well for them.

‘I think that this wasn’t an off-the-cuff slip, he wrote a column, he knew exactly what he was doing and I think it crossed from being provocative and starting a debate and actually it became rude and gratuitous.’

She added of his comments: ‘I think he should apologise for them.

‘It doesn’t bode well, and we’ve seen it in the arguments and the debate over anti-Semitism in Labour, of how we’ve got to a point in 2018 where we’re supposed to be so much better at accepting and discussing and being open about different faiths, religions, backgrounds, social classes, all of these things, and actually we’ve become slightly even more siloed and treating them differently.

Tory Remainer and Scottish MP Paul Masterton said: ‘No one is shutting down debate. 

‘They are pointing out it’s possible to argue for empowerment and religious freedom of women and girls, come to the view you are against a ban on the Burqa in public places (as he did), all without mocking women who do wear one for their appearance.’ 

The Prime Minister – who also backed Remain – yesterday called for him to apologise as he had ‘obviously offended’ people with his choice of words. 

She said:’I am very clear, and the Government is very clear about our position on the burka, which is that women should be able to choose how to dress.

‘It’s up to a women how they should dress. It’s not up to other people to tell a woman how to dress.

‘But obviously these issues are ones that are openly discussed and it’s right that we have discussion about issues like this.’

And other senior Tory figures today also rounded on the ex Cabinet minister, urging him to say sorry. 

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright criticised the choice of words telling the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme: ‘I think we should all choose our language with care.’ 

He also said it was wrong to call the burqa ‘oppressive’. 

While Lords Pickles told the programme Mr Johnson should not have used ‘illiberal language’, and added: ‘I think the sensible thing would be for him to apologise.’

He said the Conservative party could take disciplinary action against Mr Johnson if a formal complaint is made.

‘The party has various procedures,’ he said. ‘If someone has made an official complaint, then [an independent] panel would listen to the complaint.’

Sir Eric said the chance of Mr Johnson being kicked out of the party as a result is ‘pretty much inconceivable. 

‘Though you never know how these things develop.’

Tory MP Brandon Lewis, the current Tory party chairman, has also criticised the comments and said he has asked Mr Johnson to apologise. 

But Mr Johnson is showing no signs of U-turning and disowning his remarks.

Theresa May (pictured in Edinburgh yesterday) said that Boris Johnson should apologise for the remarks as they had clearly offended some people

Theresa May (pictured in Edinburgh yesterday) said that Boris Johnson should apologise for the remarks as they had clearly offended some people

But a source close to Mr Johnson said people should ‘not fall into the trap of shutting down debate on difficult issues’.

British woman who wears a niqab accuses Boris of fuelling intolerance 

Sahar al-Faifi  (pictured) told ITV's Good Morning Britain, that she has faced verbal and physical abuse for covering up.

Sahar al-Faifi  (pictured) told ITV’s Good Morning Britain, that she has faced verbal and physical abuse for covering up.

A British Muslim woman who wears a niqab, accused Mr Johnson of fuelling intolerance of women like her – leaving them open to attack.

Sahar al-Faifi told ITV’s Good Morning Britain, that she has faced verbal and physical abuse for covering up.

Bit she said that for her wearing a niqab is an act of faith.

She said: ‘This is deeply embarrassing for us- you are forgetting there’s a human being behind this.

‘He is criminalising us in public life. He has a negative impact on us and makes us feel unsafe in the street. I have faced verbal and physical abuse.

‘I was speaking to a woman recently and she was physically assaulted – her niqab was pulled off in the shop she worked in… she said she felt she had been sexually assaulted. She was left feeling as though she was naked in the street.’

Asked why she wears the full head veil, she said: ‘For me it’s an act of worship – people think I’m doing it for men. Some are, maybe, in Afghanistan but here, no.

‘In Britain, I don’t think so. In Britain there is freedom of expression.’    

‘It is ridiculous that these views are being attacked,’ the source said.

They added: ‘If we fail to speak up for liberal values then we are simply yielding ground to reactionaries and extremists.’ 

Tory peer Baroness Warsi – the first Muslim woman to be a Cabinet minister – has said the comments were ‘offensive’ and amounted to ‘dog whistle politics’.

She said: ‘I think it is not the first time that Boris has tried to make a leadership bid, and Boris was aware of the kind of impact these words would have.

‘What I am really offended by is that Muslim women need to stop being a convenient political football to increase poll ratings amongst the Tory faithful.

‘Muslim women should not be a useful political battleground for old Etonians.

‘This has happened before it is crass and it must be condemned by the leadership, right from the Prime Minister down.’

And she compared Mr Johnson to Steve Bannon – the former Donald Trump adviser and founder of the right-wing website Breitbart.

She said: ”This is literally the kind of bigotry of Bannon and the tactics of Trump finding itself into now mainstream British politics.’ 

While Mohamed Amin, chairman of the Conservative Muslim forum, has said the remarks were ‘deplorable’. 

But several Tory Brexiteers have rowed in behind Mr Johnson and insisted he has nothing to apologise for. 

Backbench Tory MP Andrew Bridgen spoke in support of his colleague, saying Mr Johnson had found a ‘light-hearted way’ to raise an important issue.   

He suggested to the BBC that the reaction to the column ‘says a lot about internal Conservative Party politics’.

Conservative MP Nadine Dorries said Mr Johnson ‘didn’t go far enough’ and called on the government to apologise. 

Mr Johnson's column came amid protests in Denmark (pictured) which has introduced a ban on face coverings 

Mr Johnson’s column came amid protests in Denmark (pictured) which has introduced a ban on face coverings 

Today, British Muslim Sahar al-Faifi, who wears a niqab, accused Mr Johnson of fuelling intolerance of women like her – leaving them open to attack.

What is the Denmark burqa ban which triggered Boris Johnson’s controversial article?

Hundreds of demonstrators marched against the ban on wearing burqas and niqabs in Denmark which came into force last week (pictured)

Hundreds of demonstrators marched against the ban on wearing burqas and niqabs in Denmark which came into force last week (pictured)

Boris Johnson penned the controversial article in response to Denmark’s recent decision to ban the burqa and niqab.

The ban, which came into force on August 1 triggered nation-wide protests inthe country.

And three days after it came into force, a 28 year-old woman wearing a niqab became the first person to be fined under the new law.

She was fined after getting into a fight with another woman, who had tried to tear off her veil.

Police were called to the scene and reviewed CCTV footage of the incident, which took place in a shopping centre in Horsholm, around 15 miles north of the capital Copenhagen. 

She was told she would be fined 1,000 kroner (£119.37) in the post, and was told to remove her veil or leave the public space, but decided to keep on her headwear. 

Denmark introduced a law on August 1 where people wearing a burqa, which covers a person’s entire face, or a niqab, which only shows the eyes.

Those who flout the law face a fine of 1,000 kroner – the equivalent of around £120.

Repeated offenders could be fined as much as 10,000 kroner – the equivalent of £1,193.

Balaclavas, masks, false beards and other accessories are included in the ban. 

She told ITV’s Good Morning Britain:  ‘This is deeply embarrassing for us- you are forgetting there’s a human being behind this.

‘He is criminalising us in public life. He has a negative impact on us and makes us feel unsafe in the street. I have faced verbal and physical abuse.

‘I was speaking to a woman recently and she was physically assaulted – her niqab was pulled off in the shop she worked in… she said she felt she had been sexually assaulted. She was left feeling as though she was naked in the street.’

Asked why she wears the full head veil, she said: ‘For me it’s an act of worship – people think I’m doing it for men. Some are, maybe, in Afghanistan but here, no.

‘In Britain, I don’t think so. In Britain there is freedom of expression.’   

Mr Johnson penned the controversial article in response to Denmark’s recent decision to ban the burqa and niqab.

The ban, which came into force a week ago, triggered nation-wide protests in the country.

And three days after it came into force, a 28 year-old woman wearing a niqab became the first person to be fined under the new law.

She was fined after getting into a fight with another woman, who had tried to tear off her veil.

Police were called to the scene and reviewed CCTV footage of the incident, which took place in a shopping centre in Horsholm, around 15 miles north of the capital Copenhagen. 

She was told she would be fined 1,000 kroner (£119.37) in the post, and was told to remove her veil or leave the public space, but decided to keep on her headwear.

Police officer David Borchersen said: ‘During the fight her niqab came off, but by the time we arrived she had put it back on again.’

Denmark introduced a law on August 1 where people wearing a burqa, which covers a person’s entire face, or a niqab, which only shows the eyes, while in public carries a fine of 1,000 kroner.

Repeated offenders could be fined as much as 10,000 kroner (£1,193).

Balaclavas, masks, false beards and other accessories are included in the ban.  

The Conservative chairman tweeted out a message of solidarity with those who have called for Mr Johnson to apologise 

The Conservative chairman tweeted out a message of solidarity with those who have called for Mr Johnson to apologise 

What Boris said about the burka

The former foreign secretary used his column to comment on Denmark’s introduction of a burka ban.

The burka is a full face covering that is associated with a conservative interpretation of Islam. 

It is not to be confused with the hijab, which leaves the face uncovered, or the niqab, which leaves the eyes exposed.

In his Daily Telegraph article Mr Johnson said that he felt ‘fully entitled’ to expect women who wear face coverings to take them off when talking to him at his MP surgery.

He also said schools and universities are entitled to take the same approach if a pupil comes in ‘looking like a bank robber’.

Mr Johnson branded the burka ‘oppressive’ and said it is ‘weird and bullying to expect people to cover their faces’.

He added that he could not find scriptural authority for the dress code in the Koran.

And he said ‘it is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes’.  

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