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‘Plaster comes off the ceiling’: Boris Johnson defends past offensive comments at leadership launch

‘Plaster comes off the ceiling’: Boris Johnson defends past offensive comments at leadership launch
Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has admitted that sometimes “plaster comes off the ceiling” with the phraseology he uses, but claims the public feels frustrated at the “muffling and veiling” language many politicians use.

Johnson, the clear favorite to succeed Theresa May as prime minister, officially launched his leadership campaign in London on Wednesday. After outlining his credentials and vision for Britain post-Brexit, Johnson faced a grilling from the assembled media over past offensive remarks and diplomatic gaffes.

Sky News’ Beth Rigby questioned the former London mayor on his comments related to veiled Muslim women, whom he compared to “letter boxes.” He bullishly explained that, on occasion, he can say things that might not sit comfortably with people, but that in the main, the British public wants straight-talking politicians.

Occasionally some plaster comes off the ceiling as a result of the phrases I use... The public feels alienated from us all as a breed of politicians because too often they feel we are muffling and veiling our language.

In an article for the Telegraph in 2018, Johnson labeled Muslim dress “oppressive,” and claimed regarding the niqab: “It is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes.”

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He has previously called black people “piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles,” referred to former US President Barack Obama as “part-Kenyan,” and talked about whisky exports in a Sikh temple, prompting outrage from many quarters, including among his fellow Tory MPs.

Johnson’s event, attended by a whole host of Conservative MPs backing his campaign to be leader, had to plough on with much of his speech whilst a pro-EU protester could be heard shouting: “Bollocks to Boris. Stop Brexit!” outside the room.

He managed to dodge a question whether it was true he had taken cocaine as a 19-year-old. A number of Tory leadership hopefuls, including Environment Secretary Michael Gove, have admitted to taking drugs in the past, since the contest got underway.

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