Boris Johnson Avoids Questions About Burkas By Offering People Cups Of Tea

Watch the moment Boris Johnson tries to divert attention from his controversial comments about burkas by offering the press around of brews:

After being asked whether he would be apologising for comparing Muslim women in burkas to letterboxes and bank robbers, the former Foreign Secretary simply declined to comment, telling journos: "I have nothing to say about this matter except to offer you some tea."

As he waddles out with a tray of mugs, milk and sugar, you can tell he's not joking.

The comments reporters were referring to were from Johnson's column in the Daily Telegraph, when he wrote: "If you tell me that the burqa is oppressive, then I am with you.

"If you say that it is weird and bullying to expect women to cover their faces, then I totally agree - and I would add that I can find no scriptural authority for the practice in the Koran.

"I would go further and say that it is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes; and I thoroughly dislike any attempt by any - invariably male - government to encourage such demonstrations of 'modesty'."

Yup, I know.

Nice shorts. Credit: PA
Nice shorts. Credit: PA

Mind you, not everyone has found controversy in Johnson's column. Rowan Atkinson, the actor who plays Mr Bean, reckons that you should only apologise for a 'bad joke'... and that on this basis, there's apparently no apology needed.

In a letter written to The Times, 63-year-old Atkinson wrote: "As a lifelong beneficiary of the freedom to make jokes about religion, I do think that Boris Johnson's joke about wearers of the burka resembling letterboxes is a pretty good one.

"All jokes about religion cause offence, so it's pointless apologising for them. You should really onlyapologise for a bad joke. On that basis, no apology is required."

Of course, Johnson isn't known for his careful, considered phrasing - and has a long, long history of making provocative comments.

While on official business in Myanmar as Foreign Secretary, he once recited a racist, colonial-era poem, depite having the British ambassador stood right next to him advising him not to. In his columns, he has also referred to black people as 'flag-waving piccaninnies' with 'watermelon smiles' - oh, and offended Sikhs by discussing alcohol in a Gurdwara.

Featured Image Credit: ITV

Jess Hardiman

Jess Hardiman is a journalist who graduated from Manchester University with a BA in Film Studies, English Language and Literature, and has previously worked for Time Out and The Skinny among others.

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