Jacob Rees-Mogg defends Boris Johnson for burka letterbox comments

LONDON ENGLAND- OCTOBER 12 Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson reacts to a comment during a joint UK  Poland press conference in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

LONDON ENGLAND- OCTOBER 12 Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson reacts to a comment during a joint UK Poland press conference in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Jacob Rees Mogg has claimed that a Conservative Party investigation into Boris Johnson's comments about women who wear burkas is a "show trial" created to prevent him from becoming leader.

And he added: "When Margaret Thatcher was leader, she and Michael Heseltine were hardly soulmates, but she would not have allowed personal rivalry to take the heat off the Labour Party, whose own deep internal divisions are buried in other news now, nor would she have countenanced any attempt to have a show trial". However, there has been a mass outpouring of support for his comments in which he compared women who wear the Burka and Niqab to "letterboxes" and "bank robbers".

Johnson's remarks, also in a column for the Daily Telegraph, split the Tory party who received dozens of complaints.

The backbencher wrote in a column for the newspaper that it was "hard to see" how Johnson had breached the party's code and said he "entirely agrees" with his colleague on the issue.

He suggested that senior conservatives have attacked Mr Johnson because of "envy" of his "many successes, popularity with voters and charisma".

Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis and leader Theresa May have both called on Mr Johnson to apologise for his comments.

"Could it be that there is a nervousness that a once and probably future leadership contender is becoming too popular and needs to be stopped?" asked Mr Rees-Mogg.

"This may explain the attempt to use the Conservative Party's disciplinary procedures, but it has been handled so ham-fistedly that it brings only sympathy and support for Mr Johnson".

In a statement, Mr Khan said: "The impact of Boris Johnson's comments are real and worrying and indicate the importance of a full, transparent and independent investigation into his conduct, in particular given the lack of action in previous cases of Islamophobia in the party".

Under party rules, the head of the panel may dismiss the complaints if they are found to be obviously trivial, lacking in merit or unable to be fairly investigated.

On Friday, the UK's equalities watchdog said Johnson's remarks were "inflammatory and divisive" and risked "vilifying Muslim women". Papers such as the Daily Mail and Telegraph have reported receiving a deluge of letters from readers with the majority supporting the stand made by Boris.

Conservative sources have insisted that the probe into Mr Johnson's comments was triggered automatically after the receipt of a number of complaints.

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