Boris Johnson refuses to criticise Tory MP who blamed coronavirus rise on BAME communities

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during a media briefing in Downing Street. Photograph: PA Vide

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during a media briefing in Downing Street. Photograph: PA Video/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Boris Johnson has failed to criticise a Tory MP who said the 'vast majority' of people breaking lockdown rules were from BAME communities.

Craig Whittaker, whose West Yorkshire seat of Calder Valley was one of the areas affected by the new measures announced on Thursday night, told LBC there were 'sections of the community that are not taking the pandemic seriously'.

When asked if he was talking about the Muslim community, the Tory MP replied: 'Of course.'

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He added: 'If you look at the areas where we've seen rises and cases, the vast majority, but not by any stretch of the imagination all areas, it is the BAME communities that are not taking this seriously enough.'

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Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth told Times Radio that the Tory party must act.

He said: 'To be frank, the Tory Party should do something about it because it is quite disgraceful, what he was saying.'

But, asked if he agreed with Whittaker's comments, Boris Johnson refused to criticise the remarks.

He explained: 'On your first point about how the… are certain communities responding enough to the guidance – well, I think it's up to all of us in Government to make sure that the message is being heard loud and clear by everybody across the country, and to make sure that everybody is complying with the guidance.'

He added: 'I want to thank all the community leaders, I want to thank everybody, the mosques, the imams who have worked hard with us to get messages across.

'All faith leaders and other community leaders getting that message across throughout society.

'But, ultimately it's up everybody. It's up to the whole country to get this right and do it together.'

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