LONDON — Former U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will be investigated by the Conservative Party after comparing women in burqas to “letter boxes” and “bank robbers.”
The Tories said they had received a number of complaints about the comments and an independent panel would carry out an investigation to see if Johnson has breached the party code of conduct.
A Conservative Party spokeswoman would not comment on the investigation, but the party put out a statement saying: “The code of conduct process is strictly confidential.”
The former foreign secretary wrote about Denmark’s ban on face veils in his Daily Telegraph column on Monday. Johnson said it was “absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes” and added: “If a constituent came to my MP’s surgery with her face obscured, I should feel fully entitled … to ask her to remove it so that I could talk to her properly. If a female student turned up at school or at a university lecture looking like a bank robber then ditto.”
Prime Minister Theresa May and party chairman Brandon Lewis called on Johnson to apologize, but he has not responded.
Conservative peer Sayeeda Warsi accused Johnson of “making hate crime more likely” while another Tory peer, Mohammed Sheikh, said Johnson should be kicked out of the party for the remarks.
The Conservative Party code of conduct says Tory officials and elected representatives must “lead by example to encourage and foster respect and tolerance” and not “use their position to bully, abuse, victimize, harass or unlawfully discriminate against others.”