ITV Good Morning Britain: 'It’s Boris bashing’ MP Andrew Bridgen defends burka comments
Good Morning Britain viewers tuned in to see a heated debate as Ranvir Singh and Ben Shephard interviewed Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen.
The hosts were discussing the investigation which has taken place into Boris Johnson’s comment piece for The Daily Telegraph, after it sparked fury amongst MPs as well as the public.
MP Andrew Bridgen appeared on the show and defended Johnson’s right to make comments on women in burkas and his opinion on whether the investigation is necessary.
Bridgen argued: “This [the investigation is] being use to try and discredit Boris Johnson from people who are worried about him in inside the Conservative party and outside the Conservative party. It’s bash Boris.”
Ranvir asked the MP about Boris’ use of language in the article he penned, and said: “So why do you think he chose to use that language, you can still make the same points without using comparisons.”
“Well there’s been a discussion across the whole of Europe with regards to the wearing of face veils, face coverings,” Bridgen replied.
But Ranvir asked again: “Why do you think it’s ok to use that language when you have said yourself, you can, that discussion is something legitimate and people want and maybe need but that language is not helpful.”
“I’m not sure it is,” Bridgen began. “I think Boris actually said the answer is not the same as Belgium, France, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria and Denmark. And even the Netherlands have got a partial ban so that wasn’t the case. People have blown this out of all proportions, you’re actually demonstrating his liberal credentials.”
Boris Johnson burka comments: the background
The furore comes after Boris Johnson’s regular Telegraph newspaper column was published at the weekend. In the column he suggested banning the burka could increase tensions between Muslims and other demographic groups.
He wrote: “If you tell me that the burka 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’.”
ITV Good Morning Britain: ‘It’s BASH Boris’ MP Andrew Bridgen defends Johnson over burka comments
Listening to Andrew Bridgen’s opinions on the column this morning, Ranvir continued: “Andrew can I ask you this…”
“Stanley Johnson, his dad, said the same thing when he was on. It is a mountain of a mole hill and I’m surprised he didn’t go further in many ways. But can I ask you this, if somebody walking down the street said to a woman wearing a full face veil you look ridiculous, you look like a letterbox, you look like a bank robber, is that appropriate if thats the logical conclusion of your argument?
“It’s distasteful and I wouldn’t relish it,” Andrew explained and then added: “It’s not against the law.”
Ben then joined the discussion and remarked: “Do you think Boris has crossed the line?”
“Just because we find something distasteful doesn’t mean its either illegal or it shouldn’t happen. You’re in a free society, there are a lot of things that go on that we may not personally approve of or wouldn’t do ourselves, but thats the benefit of living in a free and open democracy. We’ve got to be able to have this debate,” Bridgen pointed out.
But Ben was eager to pinpoint the cause of Johnson’s use of language and argued: “Undoubtedly we are. But it’s more the use of the language, particularly those phrases that he used, that has caused by so much upset. There was a letter written by a 100 muslim women who wear a burka or nikab and it was sent to Brandon Lewis backing calls for action.
“This is a quote from their letter: ‘Given the deliberate choice made to inflame tensions way in which it makes it easier to justify hate crimes against us, we can concur with the conservative peer who has demanded for the whip to be withdrawn from Boris Johnson.’
“These are women that deal with this situation each and everyday they are coming out and saying, that Boris Johnson the language he has used, particular descriptions he has used is making it easier for bigots to come up and abuse them.”
And Andrew replied: “The hypocrisy is none of them wrote to Emily Thornbury when BBC Question Time, she said that she wouldn’t want a woman wearing a burka looking after her children or an elderly mother and the only job they could have would be in the back room of the office.”
ITV Good Morning Britain: Andrew Bridgen was defending Boris
ITV Good Morning Britain: Ranvir and Ben interviewed Andrew Bridgen
“All the criticism from the columnists, from muslim women themselves, it is all a political motivation. Is that your conspiracy theory right now, that the language he used was absolutely fine does not need an apology, and that any criticism of it is a conspiracy against him?” Ranvir posed.
“I said it repeatedly, it’s language I wouldn’t have personally of used, but he is a prominent political figure he has got the debate going. If it were anybody else this would have been forgotten about, today’s newspapers are tomorrow’s fish and chips, but its not because its all about getting Boris no,” Bridgen slammed.
Deciding to take a different approach, Ranvir commented: “But if you were to write a column about this, would you use the same language? you yourself?”
“I wouldn’t personally,” Bridgen admitted. “And I’ve said that, but that doesn’t mean that Boris has to apologise. He hasn’t done anything wrong. He’s actually said things we’ve a’ll heard in company on many many occasion.”
Surprised by this comment, Ranvir asked: “Have we? Have you? What kind of company do you keep?”
“Well I have yes,” Bridgen and Ranvir replied: “Afraid it’s not language that I would sit around and listen to myself.”
“Well it’s not language I’ve used but its language I’ve heard in company yes,” Bridgen defended.
‘But if you hear that sort of language in company, do you question the use of phrases like that?” Ben questioned and Ranvir added: “You’re saying you hear the same language Boris has used in company, does this mean other MPs use this language?”
Boris Johnson wrote a comments article for the Daily Telegraph
MP Jacob Rees-Mogg also defended Boris’ comments “It’s hard to see what he should apologise for.”
“I’m talking about out in the general population,” Bridgen remarked. “I’ve heard that in conversation over the years. At the end of the day people do have concerns about device, if it’s preventing social integration. A number of countries, liberal democracies have decided to take the step of banning fcae coverings, and Boris was very clear he said he didn’t support that.”
Ranvir then argued, considering Johnson’s education, he should be able to describe the situation with less offensive language and said: “Isn’t this the irony of the whole thing?
“The fact that he is being on the front of all the papers for the language he has used and the very conclusion he comes to is a very reasonable one, which is we do not want to go down the route of banning it.
“So one wonders, why if he came to that conclusion he felt it necessary to use language that he knew, as a very clever Etonian, a wordsmith, he knows exactly what he’s doing, he wants to bet he leader of the party, he’s has been reportedly [had] meetings, out of a textbook way, ‘lets just see how this goes down with people’ and do you know what, he’ll be just as popular if not more and isn’t that the point?”
“Well Boris is a very charismatic politician, he is head and shoulders above most of us, because lets face it everyone calls him by his fist name he is on friendly terms with most of the electors, so that is political gold dust as you know.
“But at the end of the day he like I, have concerns over face coverings. But I also like he does have major concerns about governments telling people what they can and cannot wear.” Bridgen defended.
“One last thing Andrew,” Ben asked, “would you like to see him as the Tory party leader?”
And Bridgen replied: “Wer’e not in that position at the moment. But what I will say is this investigation into him is very damaging to the democracy and free speech to all the hallmarks of a political show trial.”
Good Morning Britain airs weekdays at 6am on ITV.