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Kwarteng defends Boris Johnson against racism accusations

DEFENCE: Kwasi Kwarteng

KWASI KWARTENG has defended Boris Johnson against accusations of racism, calling claims that he is a racist “scurrilous, offensive and completely wrong”.

The pro Brexit MP and Johnson supporter sought to provide context for the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip’s comments, argued that critics were rehashing old news and denied there was any truth in the accusations.

Kwarteng made the comments yesterday after SNP Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, called Boris a racist and said he was “not fit” for Number 10.

Speaking on Channel 4 News, Kwarteng said: “People have hurled all sorts of abuse frankly and accusations against him for the last 20 years. The idea that he’s a racist is completely ridiculous. He was a very inclusive mayor, he had a very wide team, lots of people from different diverse communities, he won votes right across the city from all sorts of people, from all sorts of communities. And to say that he’s a racist I think is just a scurrilous, offensive and completely wrong.”

The MP for Spelthorne added that those bringing up Johnson’s statements were reheating a whole pile of accusations from 20 years ago.

In a 2002 column for The Telegraph, Johnson wrote the phrase “cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies” and “tribal warriors will all break out in watermelon smiles to see the big white chief”.

While some of Johnson’s offensive comments are over a decade old, others are more recent. In 2016 he said that Barack Obama had an “ancestral dislike of the British empire” because he was “part-Kenyan” and a column in The Telegraph last year, he likened Muslim women who wear the niqab as “letter boxes” and “bank robbers”.

Johnson later he had no regrets over the Obama comment. He initially stood by his statements about Muslim but has recently said that he is “sorry for offence” caused by his article.

Outrage over the comments has received fresh coverage as Johnson edges closer to becoming the next prime minister of the UK. He is the frontrunner in the Conservative leadership race but many have questioned his suitability to hold the office.

Kwarteng told Channel 4 News that it was “a very easy game for his critics to trawl through all the articles and pick up one of two words”.

“To bring up an article that he wrote 20 years ago and keep reheating it is really bad actually. It’s not very effective journalism,” he said.

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