Most Britons believe Boris Johnson should not be disciplined by the Conservative Party over his incendiary comments about the niqab, according to recent ComRes poll.
The former Foreign Secretary caused huge controversy when he wrote that women wearing the Muslim face veil looked like “letter boxes” or “bank robbers.”
But a ComRes poll for the Sunday Express found that 53 per cent of people do not think Mr Johnson should be disciplined for his comments, although 40 per cent of respondents said he deserved to face punishment for his remarks.
The poll also found that 60 per cent of people believe protection of our rights to free speech have been weakened.
Polling 1,045 adults on Friday, ComRes found a distinct age difference between those who backed Mr Johnson and those who did not. The over-65s are most opposed to disciplining Mr Johnson, with 77 per cent against the idea.
Meanwhile, the UK’s largest Muslim organisation is calling on Theresa May to ensure the inquiry into Boris Johnson’s burqa comments is not a “whitewash”.
According to the Guardian, the Muslim Council of Britain will tell the prime minister “no-one should be allowed to victimise minorities with impunity”.
The Muslim Council of Britain’s letter, seen by the Guardian, said it was “hopeful” that the party “will not allow any whitewashing of this specific inquiry currently in process.”
The MCB previously said the support shown to Mr Johnson from Tory MPs had “shone a light on the underbelly of Islamophobia” within the party.
Mr Johnson – who returned home from his holiday in Italy over the weekend – has not yet responded to the row.
Communities and Local Government Secretary James Brokenshire told BBC Breakfast: “There is an ongoing investigation in relation to complaints that have been made over Boris’s comments last week. I think that’s the right approach.”
He added: “I would certainly have not chosen the words that Boris used,” but would not comment on it further during the investigation.
Should they be upheld, the complaints will then be looked at by an independent panel which could refer Mr Johnson to the party’s board, which has the power to expel him.
On Friday, in a separate investigation into a complaint, the UK’s equalities watchdog said Mr Johnson’s remarks were “inflammatory and divisive” and his comments risked “vilifying Muslim women.”