This was the week of Boris, Brexit and the Burka. All inextricably linked, but each occupying its own territory in the national debate and the country’s power dynamics. The dividing factions are the same however: the metropolitan elite pitched against the people.
The fallout over Boris Johnson’s Telegraph article, in which he argued against a Burka ban but observed the garment’s comic similarity to a letterbox, was immediately sprung upon by a Remain side scavenging for ammunition. This was the summer when the stupid idea of a second referendum was supposed to gain traction. The tired pitch is failing miserably. The Eurofanatics are desperate. It was inevitable that Boris’s comments would trigger a proxy war over Brexit.
Nigel Farage, like most Leavers, is none too fond of the fairer sex being hidden behind black robes. Many Remainers share this view, but given the opportunity to take down a powerful champion of independence they were all too eager to bend their principles. Brexit saboteur Anna Soubry was quick to attack Boris for his comments despite having defended fellow Remainer Ken Clarke for more inflammatory comments in 2013 saying, “I wish people didn’t feel the need to cover their faces with veils.”
Leavers like Jacob Rees-Mogg, Nadine Dorries and Andrew Bridgen, who rallied behind the former foreign secretary cannot be accused of such gross hypocrisy, a notable feature of the furore the media chose not to highlight, even though a full 59% of Brits support a Burka ban. A balanced playing field this is not.
Another crime: splashed across Sky News on Wednesday were the results of a poll that found 33% of people viewed Boris’s comments as racist. What about the 60% who did not?
Downing Street claims party chairman Brandon Lewis – a Remainer – acted of his own accord when he escalated the outcry by calling for an apology, leading to an investigation which could lead to Johnson’s whip being withdrawn.
Whether the prime minister is really behind it or not, pouring heat on Boris has only made him even more popular with the Tory grassroots, and at a critical juncture. May will soon have finished with fudging Brexit, a leadership contest awaits. Boris is now perfectly poised to capture the crown. And faced with a divided left, a healthy majority would surely be his.
But more was to come. Brexit obstructionist Dominic Grieve weighed in, saying he would quit the Party in the event Johnson succeeded May. These comments too backfired spectacularly, single-handedly converting MPs normally sceptical of Boris. “Before I couldn’t think of a single reason why Boris should be PM,” one Tory MP told Politico “Dominic Grieve has changed all that!”
And then there’s the question of public policy. Where should the government stand on the burka? Lest we forget, Boris’s article was entitled: “yes, the burka is oppressive and ridiculous, but that’s still no reason to ban it.” He deserves praise for speaking his mind on a debate that has not been allowed to take place. The media and the political class have shunned it. Boris’s casual article, published during an events-starved week in August, has freed up acres of space in one fell swoop.
“This is surely a legitimate subject for debate,” tweeted Jacob Rees-Mogg. The wool is no longer being pulled over our eyes (pun intended). The same day, the Times published a letter by a respected Imam. “The burka and niqab are hideous tribal ninja-like garments that are pre-Islamic, non-Koranic and therefore un-Muslim,” wrote Dr Taj Hargey.
At a time when the public is overflowing with resentment towards the establishment for the bungling of Brexit, it can ill afford to shut the door on other issues that clearly matter to voters. To do so would be intolerant and un-British. Then again, national values and tolerance aren’t part of the globalists’ vocabulary. We fight on.