Former British foreign secretary Boris Johnson is in hot water—and at risk of losing his status as Conservative Party whip—over his comments about burkas. In a Telegraph op-ed, Johnson argued the face-covering veil shouldn't be banned in Britain as it is in Denmark, but had unkind words for female wearers. It's "absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes … looking like a bank robber," Johnson wrote, per the Globe and Mail. After dozens of complaints, an independent panel is investigating whether his comments violated the Conservative Party's code of conduct, which says MPs should "foster respect and tolerance" and avoid using their position "to bully, abuse, victimize, harass or unlawfully discriminate against others," reports the BBC.
Though she avoided describing the comments as Islamophobic, Prime Minister Theresa May was among the first to rebuke Johnson for language that "offended people." She's called on him to apologize, as has party chairman Brandon Lewis, among others. Johnson, believed to be vacationing in Europe, has yet to do so. Some suggest that's because the possible candidate for future party leader meant to appeal to right-wing voters. "I sincerely hope that he doesn't continue to use Muslim women as a convenient political football to try and increase his poll ratings," former Tory chairman Sayeeda Warsi tells the Guardian. Meanwhile, the founder of the Conservative Muslim Forum tells the BBC, "the party chairman, the prime minister has the right to take the whip … that's the thing I'd like to see."