Boris Johnson called single mothers 'uppity and irresponsible' and their children 'illegitimate'

PUBLISHED: 09:54 28 November 2019 | UPDATED: 10:31 28 November 2019

Boris Johnson in 2004, when he was editor of the Spectator. Newly misogynistic and sexist comments from his time as a Spectator columnist have come to light. Picture: John Giles/PA Archive/PA Images

Boris Johnson in 2004, when he was editor of the Spectator. Newly misogynistic and sexist comments from his time as a Spectator columnist have come to light. Picture: John Giles/PA Archive/PA Images

PA Archive/PA Images

A raft of misogynistic and sexist comments by Boris Johnson have come to light, adding to the prime minister's reputation of being contemptuous of women.

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In a series of articles written for the hard-right Spectator magazine, Johnson attacked single mothers and unmarried women and suggested they should be taken control of.

Johnson described children of single mothers as "ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate ... who in theory will be paying for our pensions".

He goes on to say that it is "outrageous that married couples should pay for the single mothers' desire to procreate independently of men".

Johnson said the "blame" was not on "uppity and irresponsible women" for getting pregnant because it was their "natural desire" and there was only a limited "pool" of men.

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He embraced a profoundly patriarchal stance when he wrote: "Something must be found, first, to restore women's desire to be married.

"That means addressing the feebleness of the modern Briton, his reluctance or inability to take control of his woman and be head of a household.

"Perhaps the problem really is economic: that he feels depressed and emasculated by the state's superior ability and willingness to provide for his womenfolk."

The prime minister also said the availability of social housing acts as an "enticement" for young women to have children, and used this position as an argument for cutting benefits in order to leave women in "destitution on a Victorian scale" - to act as a deterrent to unmarried women having children.

These newly unearthed comments, written in 1995, join a long list of sexist comments and alleged instances of harassment during Johnson's political and journalistic career.

He once wrote that the way to deal with advice from a female colleague was to "just pat her on the bottom and send her on her way", suggested that the increase in the number of Malaysian women going to university was to "find men to marry" and, more recently, branded David Cameron a 'girly swot'.

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Johnson, who will not reveal the number of children he has, has previously demonstrated a cavalier attitude to women.

He dropped an internal investigation into MP Mark Field, who was filmed grabbing a female protestor at a black tie dinner. Johnson deemed the assault "a matter for the previous prime minister".

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In a now-infamous article aiming to defend the right of women to wear what they want, he still managed to humiliate Muslim women wearing niqab as looking like "letterboxes".

Journalist Charlotte Edwardes has also accused Johnson of groping her inner thigh at a function.

Shami Chakrabarti, Labour's shadow attorney general, said: "These unearthed comments further reveal Boris Johnson's contempt for women and families, as he hypocritically attacks what he appallingly describes as 'illegitimate' children.

"From attacking single mothers working hard to raise their kids, to advocating sexual harassment in the workplace, his sexist comments are an affront to women everywhere.

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"Someone whose attitudes towards women are straight out of the dark ages is not fit to be prime minister of our country."

She added that the prime minister "has no right" to be involved in the unveiling of a statue of Mary Astor, the first female MP.

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