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Tories at war after Boris Johnson's burka rant as Theresa May refuses to suspend him

Mirror logo Mirror 08/08/2018 Andrew Gregory

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Video by Press Association

The Tories were last night plunged into open warfare over Boris Johnson’s rant aimed at ­Muslim women.

Theresa May yesterday backed an order for the former Foreign ­Secretary to say sorry for comparing women wearing burkas or niqabs to “bank robbers” and “letter boxes”.

But no apology came from Mr Johnson and the dithering PM was branded weak after refusing to suspend him over his remarks.

The row came as it was revealed Mr Johnson has been reported to police for the comments and could face a criminal probe.

Boris Johnson et al. looking at each other: Boris Johnson and Theresa May © PA Boris Johnson and Theresa May Tory party chairman Brandon Lewis said: “I have asked Boris Johnson to apologise.”

After her initial silence on the matter, Mrs May finally said on a visit to Scotland: “We all have to be very careful about the language we use.

“And some of the terms Boris used describing people’s appearance ­obviously have offended. So I agree with Brandon Lewis.”

But Labour MP Naz Shah laid into the PM for not axing Mr Johnson over the fiasco.

a person smiling for the camera © REUTERS She said: “It speaks volumes about Theresa May’s weakness that she sat silent for over 24 hours on Boris Johnson’s Islamophobic comments and then refused to condemn them for what they are, promoting

“Clearly the Prime Minister is in denial. Asking he ­apologises is not enough. She needs to order an ­independent inquiry into ­Islamophobia in her party and take action against Boris Johnson for seemingly breaking the party Code of Conduct.

"His comments weren’t accidental, they were a calculated attack.”

Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said of the remarks by his old boss: “I would never have made such a comment, I think there is a degree of offence in that.”

Former Tory chair Baroness Warsi accused Mr Johnson of adopting “dog-whistle” tactics to attract support for a leadership bid.

Boris Johnson wearing a suit and tie: He compared burqa-wearing women to 'letterboxes' and 'bank robbers' © Getty Images Europe He compared burqa-wearing women to 'letterboxes' and 'bank robbers' The peer added: “Muslim women should not be a useful political battleground for Old Etonians. It must stop. It must be condemned from the Prime Minister down.”

But a source close to Mr Johnson said: “It is ­ridiculous these views are being attacked. We must not fall into the trap of shutting down the debate on difficult issues.”

Mr Johnson was reported to police by Sharmin Akther, who accused him of “spreading hate crime”.

The Muslim Council of Britain said Mr Johnson’s comments in a newspaper column appeared to “pander to the far right”.

It also asked if Tory MP Nadine Dorries would be spoken to by Mr Lewis after she said the remarks on burkas “did not go far enough”. She backs a ban on the garments.

Related: Boris Johnson's worst diplomatic gaffes (Provided by DW)

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