Foreign Secretary urged to apologise for attending ‘racist’ anti-immigrants campaign launch

29th Jun 2018
Foreign Secretary urged to apologise for attending ‘racist’ anti-immigrants campaign launch

(Photo: Chatham House/Creative Commons)

Harun Nasrullah

Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, has been urged to apologise after it emerged that he helped launch “Keep Havering Safe” campaign in December, a Conservative campaign that has been accused of “dog-whistle racism”.

The campaign went on to distribute leaflets claiming that a Labour victory would result in the borough becoming increasingly like an inner-city area with a “massive population” rise and a “crime wave”.

It warned that the influence of London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, could lead to the borough ending up “resembling Hackney, Newham, Camden and Barking” rather than “traditional” parts of Essex.

Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell revealed that Johnson had supported the launch of the campaign on his visit to Romford.

The Conservative Party Chair, Brandon Lewis, was also under pressure to intervene in the row after the local election leaflet, which one of the councillors behind it said was signed off by national party headquarters, came to light.

David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham, called the leaflet “one long dog whistle about race”, saying it marked a return to the controversial tactics used against Khan when he defeated Zac Goldsmith to become mayor in 2016.

Goldsmith was criticised, including by some Conservatives, for repeatedly raising what he alleged were Khan’s previous links to extreme Muslim figures and for not being sufficiently tough on terrorism.

Lammy said, “It is now contingent on Boris Johnson to apologise to Londoners for seemingly condoning this vile leaflet. I call on Brandon Lewis as party chair to do the same.”

Romford’s paper, the Enquirer, published pictures of Johnson paying a surprise visit to Romford to support’s Rosindell’s campaign. It was understood to be an official CCHQ campaigning day to support the Conservative candidates running in May, and one of many that he does around the country.

Rosindell said at the time: “While Havering is an outer London borough, we don’t want the social problems which come with more migration from inner London. Havering has always been a low crime area with great community spirit.”

A spokesman for the Conservatives told The Muslim News: “Romford Conservatives intended to highlight local concerns about housing pressures, high-density urbanisation and badly-run Labour councils in inner London. They have apologised for any offence caused and the leaflet has been withdrawn.”

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