Iain Duncan Smith Defends Boris Johnson’s ‘Freedom Of Speech’ Over Burkas Row

But numerous leading Muslim figures have condemned the former foreign secretary’s “joke”

By Rachel Wearmouth

PA ARCHIVE/PA IMAGES
Iain Duncan Smith has defended fellow Brexiteer Boris Johnson

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith has defended Boris Johnson after he compared women in burkas to “letterboxes” and “bank robbers”.

Fellow Brexiteer Duncan Smith said there was not anything “particularly wrong” with comments the ex-foreign secretary, who faces an investigation by the Conservative Party, made about Muslim women in a Sunday Telegraph article.

He said people “may not agree with the tone or the jokes” made in the article, but that Johnson was exercise his “freedom of speech” and was defending the government line not to ban the burka, as Denmark has done.

Numerous leading Muslim figures, including Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, have condemned Johnson’s use of language.

One hundred Muslim women who wear a burka or niqab have written to Tory chairman Brandon Lewis to demand Boris Johnson be thrown out of the Conservative Party.

But Duncan Smith said: “We have a thing called freedom of speech in this country and I don’t believe that just because somebody takes offence that means therefore that there has to be an inquiry in terms of whether or not that individual should be shut down for saying what they believe.”

He added that those who “believe strongly in equality for women “take a very different view” on burkas, adding: “Most Muslim women don’t wear one and as I understand it that is their choice, and that’s what I uphold, their choice.”

PA WIRE/PA IMAGES
Theresa May has backed calls for Boris Johnson to apologise

Johnson was urged to apologise by both Lewis and Prime Minister Theresa May, and after several complaints were submitted to the party, an internal investigation will now take place.

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Denmark has ridiculed itself by banning burkas, activist tells Euronews

“We live in a land that has freedom of expression, freedom of speech, freedom of worship and freedom of choice and if you want to uphold those there will always be those that take offence,” Duncan Smith told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

The letter signed by 100 women said Johnson made a “deliberate choice” to inflame tensions, which could pave the way for “bigots to justify hate crime”.

Speaking as “free women who are able to speak for ourselves”, the group warns “all personal choices should be respected”, adding that an apology from Johnson would be “insufficient”.

According to the party’s code of conduct, members should not use their position to “bully, abuse, victimise, harass or unlawfully discriminate against others”, with the prospect of suspension or expulsion for those found to be in breach.

Boris Johnson clear favourite to succeed Theresa May

Boris Johnson has re-emerged as the favourite to succeed Theresa May as Tory party leader.
© Daily Mail Boris Johnson has re-emerged as the favourite to succeed Theresa May as Tory party leader.Boris Johnson has re-emerged as the favourite to succeed Theresa May as Tory party leader.

The former foreign secretary is now supported by nearly a third of party members, according to a monthly poll of 1,000 Tories by the website ConservativeHome.

Just a month ago, before his July 9 resignation over the Chequers Brexit proposals, Mr Johnson was backed by only 8 per cent of members.

He is nearly ten points ahead of his nearest rival, Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

a screenshot of a cell phone© Provided by Associated Newspapers LimitedEnvironment Secretary Michael Gove’s support slumped to 7 per cent following his failure to quit in the aftermath of the Chequers deal.

Under Tory leadership rules, MPs get to choose the final two candidates whose names will go into a head-to-head contest, with votes cast by grassroots Tory members.

When the Uxbridge MP resigned, he wrote that Mrs May’s blueprint would leave the UK in ‘vassalage, satrapy, colony status’ to the EU.

‘It can’t and won’t work. Chuck Chequers,’ he added.

In his resignation speech in the Commons, the former foreign secretary said the Prime Minister had ‘dithered’ over Brexit and there had been ’18 months of stealthy retreat’.

He said her Chequers plan would lead to ‘Brexit in name only’ and leave Britain in a ‘miserable, permanent limbo’.

Sajid Javid wearing a suit and tie: Mr Johnson is nearly ten points ahead of his nearest rival, Home Secretary Sajid Javid (above)© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Mr Johnson is nearly ten points ahead of his nearest rival, Home Secretary Sajid Javid (above)

Although Mr Johnson stopped short of making a direct challenge to Mrs May in his 12-minute personal statement, he did warn her to change direction.

He declared it was ‘not too late to save Brexit’ – and made it clear he stood ready to lead the charge to ensure a clean break with the EU this autumn.

Mr Johnson flouted ‘revolving door’ rules that ban ex-Cabinet ministers from taking up new appointments in the three months after leaving office.

Under the ministerial code, former ministers must apply to the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba) before accepting a new role.

The rules also stop ministers who have been members of the Cabinet from starting new appointments in the first three months after stepping down.

Mr Johnson, who gave up his £275,000-a-year newspaper column when he was appointed foreign secretary in July 2016, made his comeback last month with an article arguing that Britain must believe in itself after Brexit.

United Kingdom, United States of America Special Relationship. What Special Relationship? And How?

When British Prime Minister Theresa May became the first world leader to visit Donald Trump at the White House in January 2017, it appeared the historic friendship between the two nations was in good health.

But a series of spats have driven the two leaders apart, culminating in the president’s extraordinary public criticism of May’s Brexit strategy as he arrived on a visit to Britain this week.

November 2016: The US president-elect catches May off-guard when he tweets that former UK Independence Party leader and Brexit champion Nigel Farage “would do a great job” as Britain’s ambassador to the United States.

May’s Downing Street office is forced to say there is “no vacancy”.

January 2017: May meets Trump at the White House, where he predicts that “great days lie ahead for our two peoples and our two countries”, raising hopes of a swift post-Brexit trade deal.

May and Trump also met at the UN General Assembly in September© Provided by AFP May and Trump also met at the UN General Assembly in September

The defining image of the trip is of Trump holding May’s hand as they walk outside the White House. It attracts derision in Britain. The British leader invites her counterpart for a state visit.

But the feelgood factor lasts only a matter of hours, as the US leader unexpectedly announces a travel ban targeting seven Muslim-majority countries, affecting dual British citizens.

May says she “did not agree” with the ban, and British lawmakers demand she rescind the state visit invitation.

June 2017: Trump takes aim at London Mayor Sadiq Khan following a terror attack in the British capital.

Distorting a message from Khan telling Londoners there was “no reason to be alarmed” by an increased police presence, Trump tweets: “At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!'”

Khan responds, saying: “We’re not schoolchildren. He’s the president of the United States, so I’m unclear what his beef is with me.”

September 2017: After the botched bombing of a London underground train, Trump weighs in again, tweeting: “Another attack in London by a loser terrorist. These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!”

May responds it was “unhelpful” to speculate on an ongoing investigation.

Jayda Fransen, the deputy head of a British far-right group, posted anti-Muslim videos that were retweeted by US President Donald Trump© Provided by AFP Jayda Fransen, the deputy head of a British far-right group, posted anti-Muslim videos that were retweeted by US President Donald Trump

November 2017: Trump retweets three videos originally posted by Jayda Fransen, deputy head of far-right group Britain First, purportedly showing Muslims engaging in acts of violence, although one of the videos is later debunked.

May says Trump was “wrong” to retweet the messages, but the US leader hits back, tweeting to May: “Don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom.”

January 2018: Trump says he is not coming to inaugurate the new US embassy building with a tweet, calling its new site in south London an “off location”.

“I am not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for ‘peanuts’,” he wrote, adding: “Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!”.

May 2018: Trump tells a National Rifle Association convention that a “once very prestigious hospital” in London was like a “war zone” because of knife crime.

“Yes, that’s right, they don’t have guns, they have knives and instead there’s blood all over the floors of this hospital. They say it’s as bad as a military war zone hospital.”

He then mimicked someone using a knife.

Knife-related crimes rose by 23 percent in London last year.

July 2018: With the promised state visit now downgraded to a working trip, the president drops a bombshell for May as he begins the four-day stop fresh from rebuking NATO allies in Brussels.

Interviewed by The Sun newspaper, Trump says May is deviating from British voters’ wishes with her plan to retain close trading links to the EU after Brexit.

“I would have done it much differently. I actually told Theresa May how to do it but she didn’t agree, she didn’t listen to me,” he says.

May’s plan would “probably kill” her hopes for a post-Brexit trade deal with the United States, Trump says, and for good measure adds that former foreign minister Boris Johnson, who resigned over the Brexit plan, would make “a great prime minister”.

The undiplomatic language does nothing to endear Trump to the many protesters who intend to shadow the president’s visit, complete with a nappy-clad blimp bearing his features.

It is hard not to fall in love with Donald Trump’s press conferences, not that they are informative but hilariously leakage and lack of it

Donald Trump never fails to amuse. He is very, very funny. You can say that he should be no laughing matter – he’s the most powerful man in the world, his words and actions are deadly serious, and you’d probably be right. But then, I mean, just look at him – listen to him. He reduces world politics to an amazing farce, and it’s impossible not to slightly love for him for it.

maytrumpmel
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are welcomed at Blenheim Palace by Britain

What sane person could possibly watch today’s press conference with Theresa May and not crack up? It was a comic masterpiece. When he described the relationship between Britain and France as ‘in terms of grade, the highest level of special. So we start of with special …. I would say the highest level of special. Am I allowed to higher than that? I don’t know.’

As to his advice to May about Brexit, he added, ‘I did give her advice. I think maybe she found it too brutal! Because I can see that … [turning to May] I dunno if you remember … I did give her a suggestion. I can fully understand why should thought it was a bit tough and maybe someday she’ll do that. She might very well do what I suggested.’

The awkwardness over May and Trump over his sensational Suninterview yesterday was hilarious. On Boris Johnson, he said ‘They asked … how would Boris Johnson be as a Prime Minister? I said yeah he’d be a great Prime Minister. He’s been very nice to me  I think he thinks I am doing a great job. I am doing a great job, that I can tell you – just in case you haven’t noticed. But Boris Johnson would make a great Prime Minister.’

[Change on tone] ‘I also said that this incredible woman right here is doing a fantastic job and [pause] I mean that… Yesterday I had breakfast, lunch and dinner and then I said ‘what are we doing tomorrow?’ and we are having breakfast and lunch with Theresa May and I’m going to see her again later.’

His summary of the complexity of Brexit? ‘And that Brexit is a very tough situation. That’s a tough deal. Between the borders, and the entries into the countries, she’s going to do the best.’

The sheer hypnotic weirdness of Trump media events is hard to describe. Trump did his ostentatious refusal to talk to CNN for being fake news routine – old material, but perhaps his best. At one point the famous British journalist Robert Peston, a competitor to Trump in the narcissism stakes, tried to be more amusingly arrogant than Trump. He failed, though his pink shirt was lovely. The weight of his ego was crushed by the Commander-in-Chief.

If Alec Baldwin, the best Trump impersonator there is, stood up and did a mock Trump press conference, he couldn’t have made it 10 per cent as funny as that.

Perhaps it’s wrong to giggle at the Commander-in-Chief. These are grave matters of state. Perhaps we are witnessing the collapse of western democracy and the liberal world order. Perhaps we are witnessing the opposite? Nobody can tell. But who knew it would so rip-roaringly entertaining?

President Trump denies he attacked May, accuses The Sun of ‘fake news’

Donald Trump accuses The Sun of ‘fake news’ and insists whatever Theresa May does with Brexit ‘is ok with me’

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© Reuters U.S. President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May meet at Chequers in Buckinghamshire, Britain July 13, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Donald Trump has insisted he did not attack Theresa May in his bombshell newspaper interview, branding it “fake news”.

Speaking alongside her at Chequers, the president said: “I didn’t criticise the prime minister, I have a lot of respect the prime minister.”

LIVE: Anti-Trump protest in full swing

Mr Trump also stepped back from his warning, in The Sun, that her Brexit plan would “kill” any trade deal – as long as there were no “restrictions”.

However, to her discomfort, Mr Trump confirmed he had given her a “suggestion” on how to pursue Brexit – while rejecting the word “advice” – saying: “I think she found it too brutal.”

In a comment certain to be leapt on by Brexiteer MPs, he added: “I can fully understand why she thought it was a little bit tough” – even suggesting she might yet adopt it, if her own plan failed.  Mr Trump refused to reveal his “suggestion”, but denied it was to collapse the talks if necessary, saying: “You can’t walk away because, if she walks away, that means she’s stuck.”

Bizarrely, he also claimed he had visited Britain the day before the 2016 referendum and correctly predicted the Leave vote – even though he arrived a day later.

He then claimed he had told the prime minister: “I want to apologise,” – prompting her to reply: “Don’t worry, it’s only the press.”

Theresa May Rolls Eyes As Trump Is Asked About Sun Interview Attacking Her

Both President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Theresa May were caught on camera showing their displeasure at a journalist’s question about the now-infamous interview given by the American leader to The Sun, a British tabloid newspaper.

The pair were giving a brief update to a pool of reporters at Chequers, the prime minister’s countryside residence, but Trump said he would take no questions until a press conference scheduled later in the day.

china us tradeTrump had told The Sun newspaper that May’s current plan for Brexit would “probably kill” any potential trade deal with the U.S. by keeping Britain too closely aligned with the European Union E.U.

By Crimson Tazvinzwa

Donald Trump: ‘British people like me a lot. The police build barriers to stop me getting mobbed’

I’d like to start by thanking myself bigly for finding the time to talk to you at this press conference. As many of you will know, the president of the United States of America is a very busy man. Possibly the busiest man in the world. And no president has ever been busier than me. I am the busiest. So I’m sure you’d like to join me in thanking me for making time in my schedule for you.

When I said yesterday Nato was a waste of space and I couldn’t wait to leave, that was fake news. I don’t know why the media always choose to report me accurately but they do. I’m telling you now that Nato is a great place. One of the very best places I’ve ever visited. I like it a lot. A lotly a lot. I’ve got a lot of properties in Nato. More properties than any other person in the world. You should come and stay in them some time. You really should. And the Natians are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. The very nicest.

But I’m telling you this and I need you to hear me. Some of the Natians haven’t been paying their fair share. And that’s got to stop right now. So that’s what I told them. I said, if you don’t pay your fair share then you aren’t paying your fair share. And yes, we had some tough talks about that. Some of the toughest talks of all time.

But we got there in the end, with the Natians agreeing to pay what they had already agreed to pay. No one bargains tougher than me. No one.

So Nato is now a lot safer and a lot stronger than when I arrived here a couple of days ago. It was amazing to see the spirit in the room. And I guess that’s down to me. Everyone here in Natoland has personally thanked me. That’s a fact. A factly fact. Each Natian has made a point of coming up to me to say thank you. They thanked me a lot for being a very stable genius.

They said: “Thank you, Mr President, you can leave now.” Even Mr Stoltenburger – I’ve never eaten one of those – thanked me as he showed me the door. That was a joke by the way. I like to make jokes. I make a lot of jokes. I really do. You should ask Pierce Morgan. He says I’m the funniest guy he’s ever met.

My next stop is Britain, England. I’m going to a lot of pretty hotspots on this European trip. But that’s what the president does. He goes to hotspots. And I make no bones about it, hotspots don’t get hotter than Blenheim Palace and Windsor Castle. There’s a lot of very bad people in those places. Worse even than Afghanistanistan.

But America makes the best weapons in the world. We really do. The very best. No one makes better weapons than America. You should buy some of them. We’ve got planes that can do incredible things. Things you wouldn’t believe. Just like in the cartoons. Have you watched Fox News? So I can look after myself if the environment gets too hostile. I’m not worried. Nothing worries me. I sleep very well at night. Better than any other president. I take my memory foam mattress everywhere. Helps with my dementia. Not that I have it.

I think the British people like me a lot. They like me so much the police have had to build barriers everywhere I go to stop me being mobbed by my fans. And I’m really looking forward to getting out and seeing a bit of the country and not meeting anyone. I love not meeting people. Hugely.

What’s that about heartbreak? Oh, you said hard Brexit. I thought you said heartbreak. I’ve had heartbreak. Though not so much recently. I guess Brexit means Brexit though I haven’t really given it much thought. Then no one in Britain, Europe, has either. Just make sure you’ve got enough cages for the kids and it’ll be fine.

So yeah, I reckon the first two days of my UK trip are going to be a bit dull. Just lunch and a few castles. But then I get to go up to my golf course in Turnberry, Scotland, England. I’ve got a lot of golf courses. No president has ever had more golf courses.

And mine are the best. The absolute best. It’s going to be great putting my feet up before I go off to see Vladimir Putin. He’s a great guy. A lot of people misunderstand him. He’s a competitor not an enemy. We get on really well and I’m telling you he can’t wait to hear what I’ve got to say about you Natians.

Thanks so much for my time. It was your pleasure.

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