Boris Johnson’s most controversial comments – from his burka ‘letterbox’ jibe to racism allegations

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NEW Prime Minister, Boris Johnson is known for his controversial comments and has been involved in several scandals throughout his career – which have seen a number of Conservative MPs resign.

The former Foreign Secretary and current Prime Minister has made comments that have not gone down well in the past – here’s a look back at some of his most controversial quotes.

Britain's Conservative Party leader contender Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks during the official launch of his leadership campaign
Britain’s Conservative Party leader contender Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks during the official launch of his leadership campaign
AP:Associated Press

What did Boris say about burkas?

Writing in the Daily Telegraph Boris said the cover-all garment was “oppressive” – but added that Denmark had got it wrong to bring in a ban.

Mr Johnson wrote: “If you say that it is weird and bullying to expect women to cover their faces, then I totally agree.

“I would go further and say that it is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes.”

And he added that if “a female student turned up at school or a university lecture looking like a bank robber” he would ask her to remove it to speak to her.

The outspoken MP has a long history of controversial statements
The outspoken MP has a long history of controversial statements
London News Pictures

What other controversial things has Boris said?

On women in the labour party in 1996

In 1996, writing for The Telegraph, Johnson went to a Labour party conference and wrote a piece reviewing the “hot totty” – female labour MPs on the “Tottymeter.”

In his opening line he wrote: “It is hard to know quite how to put this.

“What follows is neither politically correct nor scientific,” but he concludes that women are “naturally fickle” and thus turning to labour with the polls.

On gay men in 1998

Writing again in his now infamous Telegraph column, Johnson described gay men as “tank-topped bumboys.”

In a separate column in the same year he wrote that the BBC’s move to increase equality for gay people “must be a spoof.”

On gay marriage in 2002

Johnson compared same-sex marriage to bestiality in his 2002 book, Friends, Voters, Countrymen.

He wrote: “If gay marriage was OK – and I was uncertain on the issue – then I saw no reason in principle why a union should not be consecrated between three men, as well as two men, or indeed three men and a dog.”

On UKIP in 2004

“I can hardly condemn UKIP as a bunch of boss-eyed, foam-flecked euro hysterics, when I have been sometimes not far short of boss-eyed, foam-flecked hysteria myself.”

On voting for the Conservative party in 2005

“Voting Tory will cause your wife to have bigger breasts and increase your chances of owning a BMW M3.”

On Papua New Guinea and leadership elections in 2006

“For ten years we in the Tory Party have become used to Papua New Guinea-style orgies of cannibalism and chief-killing.”

On Hillary Clinton in 2007

“She’s got dyed blonde hair and pouty lips, and a steely blue stare, like a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital.”

He claimed she carried out her role as First Lady like “Lady Macbeth, stamping her heel, bawling out subordinates and frisbeeing ashtrays at her erring husband.”

On Tony Blair visiting Africa in 2010

“What a relief it must be for Blair to get out of England.

“It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies.”

On Malaysian women in 2013

Speaking to the Malaysian Prime Minister at the time, Johnson suggested a 68 per cent rise in Malaysian women attending university was so that they could “find husbands”.

On Vladimir Putin in 2015

“Despite looking a bit like Dobby the House Elf, he is a ruthless and manipulative tyrant,”

On the EU in 2016

“Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically. The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods.”


On President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey in 2016

“There was a young fellow from Ankara,

“Who was a terrific w**kerer.

“Till he sowed his wild oats,

“With the help of a goat,

“But he didn’t even stop to thankera.”

On Donald Trump in 2016

“I would invite him to come and see the whole of London … except that I wouldn’t want to expose Londoners to any risk of meeting Donald Trump.

“The only reason I wouldn’t go to some parts of New York is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump.”

But while Bojo always seems to be saying something silly, he told reporters at the launch of his bid to become Tory leader and Prime Minister, that he would not be “muffled” and “will continue to speak directly” when leading the country.

On Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in 2017

In a hugely controversial blunder back in 2016, that Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband blames for her unlawful incarceration, Johnson mistakenly told Iranian ministers that the charity worker had been teaching journalism in the country.

Johnson condemned her conviction for spying and had been hoping to aid in her release during his visit to Iran, but his comments were later cited as proof by Iran that she was engaged in “propaganda against the regime.”

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