World

Rowan Atkinson defends Boris Johnson over burka comments

Rowan Atkinson defends Boris Johnson over burka comments

The Conservative party's website says suspension of membership or expulsion from the party are among the ultimate options open to its board on conclusion of a code of conduct investigation.

"This is quite an important issue about free speech and it's got nothing to do with the awful events that take place over Enoch Powell and the Rivers of Blood speech".

The Conservative Party's announcement on Thursday that Mr Johnson would face an inquiry has provoked a furious war of words, with many Tories regarding the move as an over-reaction.

It was in his weekly Telegraph column that Mr Johnson made comments which sparked demands for an apology from a host of figures from all sides of politics, including Theresa May, Tory chairman Brandon Lewis and Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson.

Mr Mitchell, who was chief whip in 2012 and global development secretary before that, told BBC Two's Newsnight: "I don't think he should apologise".

The actor, who plays funnyman Mr Bean, said that you should only apologise for a "bad joke" and that on that basis - "no apology is required".

But Muslim organisations said there had been "a real impact" from Johnson's remarks.

"This is quite an important issue about free speech and it's got nothing to do with the awful events that take place over Enoch Powell and the Rivers of Blood speech".




Mr Mitchell, who backs Mr Johnson, argued the party needed to be really careful about its handling of the matter.

Under party rules, the head of the investigation may dismiss complaints that are obviously trivial or lacking in merit and those which can not fairly be investigated.

Johnson's comments followed Denmark introducing a ban on burqas in public places.

Despite the row engulfing the Conservatives, the latest YouGov poll for The Times put the party four points ahead.

The letter also said that Johnson's choice of Islamophobic words was deliberate and "was made to inflame tensions in a way that makes it easier for bigots to justify hate crime against us", adding further support to Tory peer Lord Sheik's request that Johnson lose the party whip, meaning he would no longer represent the party.

The prime minister, Mr Lewis and a string of other ministers have already said Mr Johnson should apologise for the comments, but he has steadfastly refused to.

- YouGov interviewed 1,675 adults in Britain on August 8 and 9.


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