Ex-British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson has stated that burqa-wearing women look like “mailboxes” and “bank robbers”.
Johnson’s statement has unleashed a dispute within his own Conservative Party which might harbor hints as to who will be the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
In a text in the Daily Telegraph on Monday, Johnson said he opposed banning burqas and other clothing covering his face, but wrote that it was “absolutely ridiculous for people to choose to go around looking like mailboxes.”
His article attracted criticism from Muslim groups and political colleagues – including some Conservatives.
Mohamed Sheikh, founder of the Conservative Muslim Forum, said that Johnson’s article was “totally out of order.”
Both Conservative Party President Brandon Lewis and Prime Minister Theresa May have said Johnson owes an apology.
The former mayor of London and one of Brexit’s top defenders, Johnson resigned as foreign secretary in July, accusing Prime Minister Theresa May of killing “Brexit’s dream” with the plan to pursue close economic ties with the European Union after the UK leaves the bloc next year.
The resignation solidified Johnson’s position as leader of the Conservative Party’s pro-Brexit wing, which is deeply divided over its attitude towards the EU.
Many analysts anticipate that May will face a leadership challenge if Brexit’s negotiations do not improve – and Johnson may seek to take on the premier’s role.
Johnson has also been one of the key supporters for Britain’s involvement in imperialist wars across the globe and a key anti-Russian voice in British politics. Johnson has continually peddled unsubstantiated allegations of Russia’s involvement in international affairs without providing any evidence for these claims that have sparked acute diplomatic conflicts.
The United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union next year. Thus far, however, British authorities have failed to complete negotiations on how exactly this will happen and what the concrete economic, political, and legal consequences will be.