London: Former British foreign minister Boris Johnson will be investigated for a possible breach of the Conservative Party’s code of conduct after making comments about Muslim women who wear burkhas, a party source said on Thursday. The source said that a number of complaints had been received, and would be considered by an independent panel.
A spokesman for the party declined to confirm the investigation. “The code of conduct process is strictly confidential,” he said in a statement.
Johnson wrote in The Daily Telegraph on Monday that Denmark was wrong to ban the burkha, but added that it was "absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter-boxes". Johnson, who resigned in July over the government’s Brexit plans, also said the robe was oppressive, prompting accusations of Islamophobia from other politicians and British Muslim groups.
British prime minister Theresa May backed calls for her former foreign minister to apologise for the disparaging comments, May said his remarks "have clearly caused offence" and agreed with the chairman of her Conservative party, Brandon Lewis, who had asked Johnson to apologise.
However, the former top diplomat, who has a reputation for causing controversy, refused to back down. "It is ridiculous that these views are being attacked. We must not fall into the trap of shutting down the debate on difficult issues," a source close to Johnson told reporters. "We have to call it out. If we fail to speak up for liberal values then we are simply yielding ground to reactionaries and extremists."
The Conservative party’s website says suspension of membership or expulsion from the party is among the ultimate options open to its board on the conclusion of a code of conduct investigation.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Aug 09, 2018 18:13:20 IST