Former Tory speechwriter says he cannot support 'racist, Islamophobic' Boris Johnson

PUBLISHED: 16:51 26 November 2019 | UPDATED: 17:33 26 November 2019

Ex-Conservative speechwriter Ian Birrell told James Brokenshire he “could not back Boris Johnson” because he has “played with Islamophobic tropes” and “expressed racist language” in his writing. Photos: BBC

Ex-Conservative speechwriter Ian Birrell told James Brokenshire he "could not back Boris Johnson" because he has "played with Islamophobic tropes" and "expressed racist language" in his writing. Photos: BBC

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A former speechwriter for the Conservative Party and its prime ministers has hit out against the current state of the party, challenging the former secretary of housing on his support of a 'racist, Islamophobic' party leader.

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Ian Birrell was speaking on Politics Live when he challenged James Brokenshire on his views.

Birrell said: "It's the most depressing election of my lifetime, that we have people who are so blinkered by their tribal loyalties that they are defending the indefensible. We're seeing it in the Labour party and we're seeing it now with the Conservative Party.

"James [Brokenshire] keeps sounding like a speak your weight machine saying that he is very anti-racism, et cetera and what a noble person he is which is great.

"But you know, speaking as someone who was a former prime minister's speechwriter in your party I could not back Boris Johnson because of what he has said on these issues."

Birrell continued: "He has played with Islamophobic tropes, he has expressed racist language, he has also been homophobic in his writing and if we want to look at other stuff, denied human links with climate change.

"How can you say you're a passionate anti-racism campaigner and back a prime minister who has said these things, these completely unacceptable words to use? It's not satirical to be using these sorts of tropes, it's not acceptable. Why do you defend it?"

Brokenshire looked flustered and stumbled through his response, saying: "The prime minister has apologised and recognised where there have been words that have been taken in ways and have upset in ways that he would not want to have caused.

"Bear in mind the British Muslims who have been promoted to the cabinet, to ministers, to the inclusive nature of the politics that I believe I stand for."

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