Boris Johnson refuses to apologise for ‘bum boys’ and ‘letterboxes’ remarks

Boris Johnson on BBC Question Time. Photograph: Jeff Overs/PA.

Boris Johnson on BBC Question Time. Photograph: Jeff Overs/PA. - Credit: PA

Boris Johnson has once again refused to apologise for his comments made about gay men and Muslim women.

Appearing on Question Time, Johnson said he had a "right to speak out" and told the studio audience to read his opinion pieces before criticising his remarks.

He insisted he had never intended to cause "hurt or pain".

An audience member had told the prime minister: "Racist rhetoric in this country is completely rife.

"Will you admit that you have personally contributed to this and say the words, "I'm sorry"?"

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He continued: "I've written many millions of words in my life as a journalist and I've genuinely never intended to cause hurt or pain to anybody."

Presenter Fiona Bruce went on to point out the remarks he was referring to which he compared to Muslim women in burqas to letterboxes.

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"There's the Muslim women going around looking like letter boxes, you referred to tribal warriors with watermelon smiles, and flag-waving piccanninies and just to get another demographic in tank topped bum boys."

But Johnson was unapologetic as he told the audience: "If you go through all my articles with a fine-tooth comb and take out individual phrases there is no doubt that you can find things that can be made to seem offensive and of course I understand that."

He added: "I defend my right to speak out. If you actually read the piece, I'm not sure how many people actually have, if you read the piece what I was actually doing.

Johnson said he had a "strong liberal" viewpoint and "always stood up for gender equality".

He continued: "I suggest you read any of them or all of them. What I was really doing was mounting a strong liberal offence of the women in this country to wear what they choose and not to be oppressed into wearing something they don't want to wear and I think most people in this country would agree with that.

"I've always stood up for gender equality."

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