LONDON: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has apologised for the “hurt and offence” that has been caused by Islamophobia within Conservative ranks. He said his party would hold an inquiry into “every manner of prejudice and discrimination” in his party, adding that it would start before Christmas.
It comes as Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn faces further intense pressure to apologise to the Jewish community amid criticism of his handling of anti-Semitism complaints, despite a blistering attack on his record by the Chief Rabbi.
The Conservatives were also criticised for their handling of Islamophobia allegations by the Muslim Council of Britain on Tuesday, who accused the party of “denial, dismissal and deceit”.
According to a report by ‘Evening Standard’, speaking at the Goonhilly ;Earth Station in Corwall, the Prime Minister told reporters: “Obviously whenever we have an incident of anti-Semitism or Islamophobia or whatever in the Conservative Party, we take a zero-tolerance approach…. We have a one bounce and we deal with it approach to this.
“We are going to have an independent inquiry into Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, every manner of prejudice and discrimination, and it will start before Christmas.” Asked if he apologised for the Islamophobia that has taken place in the Tory party, he replied: “Of course and for all the hurt and offence that has been caused – of course we do.”All that is intolerable and it’s so important as a country that we don’t allow that kind of thing, and that’s why we’re going to have the independent inquiry.”
While Mr Johnson apologised for Islamophobia in Tory ranks, he remained silent about his own comments on Muslim women.
Boris Johnson compares women in burkas to “letter boxes”
Earlier on Wednesday, a long-serving Conservative Parvez Akhtar called on Mr Johnson to “unequivocally apologise” for comments he made about Muslim women. Mr Akhtar, the Tory candidate for Luton South, pointed to remarks made by Mr Johnson last year, likening women wearing burkas to “letter boxes” or “bank robbers”.
He said the “hurt and anger” caused by Mr Johnson’s words had become “increasingly obvious” during his campaign trail, as he fights to win over the 30 per cent Muslim seat. Mr Akhtar added that the PM’s comments had “reinforced the widely held view that the Conservative Party has a blind spot when it comes to Muslims.”