Theresa May faces Tory civil war over niqab rebuke

Boris Johnson burka row

The prime minister, Mr Lewis and a string of other ministers have already said Mr Johnson should apologise for the comments, but he has steadfastly refused to.

A panel including one independent figure, one representative of the voluntary party and one nominated by the backbench 1922 Committee, will look into complaints that his comments breached the Conservative Party's code of conduct.

The internal Tory process looking at Mr Johnson's comparison of Muslim women in face coverings with "bank robbers" or "letter boxes" was automatically triggered on Thursday after party headquarters received several complaints.

"You should really only apologize for a bad joke".

But Atkinson, in a letter to The Times, said the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip had just been telling a joke. "On that basis, no apology is required", he wrote, in a letter to the Times.

"The burqa and niqab are ugly tribal ninja-like garments that are pre-Islamic, non-Koranic and therefore un-Muslim", he wrote in The Times.

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Theresa May was 14 points ahead of Jeremy Corbyn, up seven points on last week, on the question of who would make the best prime minister.

Mr Mitchell retorted: "We must keep some perspective; I don't agree with what Boris said - I think women should be allowed to wear what they want - but I do think we must careful not to go over the top on this".

Johnson wrote in The Daily Telegraph this week that Denmark was wrong to ban the burqa, a head-to-toe cloak which conceals the face with a mesh or is worn in conjunction with the niqab - a face veil that leaves only the eyes exposed. 'He hasn't committed any offence'Andrew Mitchell, Tory MP for Sutton Coldfield " I don't think he should apologise.

In his column he said: "If you tell me that the burqa is oppressive, then I am with you. But he hasn't committed any offence".

"The code of conduct process is strictly confidential", a Conservative party spokesperson said, refusing to elaborate on the procedure. "Nevertheless we do so because we believe it is a means to get closer to God", it added.

'Full bandwagon jumping territory'Conor Burns, Tory MP for Bournemouth West'It's bash Boris'Andrew Bridgen, Tory MP for North West Leicestershire " This [inquiry is] being use to try and discredit Boris Johnson from people who are anxious about him in inside the Conservative party and outside the Conservative party.

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