Sayeeda Warsi ups the ante over Boris Johnson burka backlash

Written by James Millar on 7 August 2018 in Diary

The former cabinet minister went after Boris Johnson in a TV interview, having been reminiscing on the radio

The Conservative party should discipline Boris Johnson for his comments comparing veil-wearing Muslim women to 'letterboxes', former Tory co-chair Sayeeda Warsi has said.

In a controversial column the former foreign secretary argued against banning the burka but said those that wear it look like 'bank robbers' and 'letterboxes'. The comments have attracted widespread criticism not least from his Conservative colleague Baroness Warsi, the first Muslim woman to sit at the cabinet table when she was part of David Cameron's government.

She has gone on a media offensive in which she warned of 'the Ukipification of the Conservative party' due to former members of Nigel Farage's party switching to the Tories. She demanded an independent inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservatives and accused Prime Minister Theresa May of 'washing her hands' of the issue. She warned that Muslim women must not be used as a political football and said Johnson's comments were part of a leadership bid.

Foreign office minister Alastair Burt condemned the comments during a Today programme interview this morning.

Current party chairman Brandon Lewis has called on Johnson to apologise but Warsi took to Twitter to urge him to go further. 



Pointing to other examples such as backbencher Bob Blackman sharing an Islamophobic article on Facebook and Zac Goldsmith's mayoral campaign she told Sky News: "Sadly it appears that in my party when parliamentarians make such comments it doesn't diminish their political status - it actually increases their political success." 

Earlier in the day, in a lengthy interview with Peter Hennessy as part of his 'Reflections' series, Baroness Warsi said she was "thoroughly ashamed" of Goldsmith's 2016 tilt at the London mayoralty. And she accused fellow peers from the Conservatives and Ukip of taking part in an Islamophobic discourse. She described the issue as her party's "bigotry blackspot".

In the same interview she talked about joining an anti poll tax demonstration while at university and how she turned down a job in Commonwealth relations from David Cameron, describing it as 'tokenistic' 

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