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Everything depends upon Brexit, says Johnson

29th Nov 2019
Everything depends upon Brexit, says Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Editor of The Muslim News, Ahmed J Versi he ‘understands the needs of the Muslim community’
(Credit: The Muslim News)

Hamed Chapman

The key for Britain to overcome most of the pressing issues it faces, including making the country safer for Muslims as everyone else, is to first leave the European Union, according to Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.

In an exclusive, comprehensive interview with The Muslim News Editor, Ahmed J Versi, Johnson was adamant that the first task after the General Election on December 12 was to “get Brexit done.”

“We want an environment where business can flourish,” he emphasised, “We believe by creating the right infrastructure, the right flowerbed then business can bloom.

“Because we have a strong economy, we make sure we don’t have too many taxes, you don’t borrow too much, you don’t run up too much debt, you are able to make sensible investments in the country, sensible one-nation Conservative approach.

“To do that you need to have Brexit done,” the Prime Minister insisted, mentioning that he would also be “bringing communities together to give everybody more opportunity whether from a Muslim or whatever background.”

“They will grow up with clean environment, wonderful public services, wonderful healthcare. They are able to make wonderful use of their talents,” he argued. All was depending though upon his party winning a “majority in Parliament to get Brexit done.”

In October, Johnson had the option of allowing MPs to scrutinise the details of his hastily put-together deal with the EU after it passed a second reading in Parliament but instead pressed ahead at the third attempt to hold an early general election.
“We have a new deal. It was a great deal. (But) we had to slow down in others,” he told The Muslim News. Among other things, he mentioned is that he was prepared now to reverse previous policies, including “increasing funds for education in the whole country” as well as putting “a huge amount into policing.”

His emphasis also included another of his standard pledges to build more hospital. “The key thing to do is to get Brexit done” though having failed to leave the EU on October 31, which had been the cornerstone of his campaign during the summer to become Tory leader.

Prevent counter-terrorism strategy

During his wide-ranging interview Johnson surprisingly admitted that “Prevent has never been brilliant,” when questioned about the discredited programme that mainly targets Muslims.

“One thing I would say that it is for extremism of all kinds including right wing extremism. It is wrong to see Islam through the prism of terrorism.”
“My message in this election is that everybody in the Muslim community who loves this country, who cares about this country to come together,” he said before again returning to his priority for Britain to first leave the European Union. “Whether you a leaver or a ‘remainer’, now is the time to put this issue (Prevent) away.”

Yet when challenged further about the excesses including focusing on the faith of Muslims and police being heavy handed, he conceded that his Government would “see what I can do to see Prevent is more sensible” as well look again at the re-appointment of Lord Carlile to carry out a fresh review of the controversial policy.

On Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which allows police to stop and search Muslims without suspicion of extremism or terrorism at ports, he pledged to look into checks at airports under the emergency powers.

“People should not feel discriminated against. So we want a country of opportunity and this community is doing brilliantly. Whole potential of this community is being held back.”

Inquiry into the rife Islamophobia within the Tories

With regard to Islamophobia, which his party has constantly been accused of refusing to address, the Prime Minister wrongly claimed that number of hate crimes against Muslims came down last year instead of going up

“We have zero tolerance of prejudice of any kind, also Islamophobia. We are doing inquiry into prejudice of all types which will start this year,” he stressed. “We want to protect everybody, particularly minority groups of all kind, particularly Muslims who are vulnerable. We want everybody to feel safe.”

When challenged that he was diluting the promised Islamophobia inquiry by broadening it into all forms of prejudice, Johnson insisted it was “more useful to look into the general (prejudices)” before again repeating other things he was pledging to do if he was elected. He further said that the police is “sensitive to Islamophobia” and “understands the needs of the Muslim community.”

Questioned on foreign affairs, the Prime Minister initially suggested that the brutal clampdown on Jammu and Kashmir by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, was difficult for Britain to intervene in as it was an issue where “India and Pakistan should work together.”

Later he corrected himself in saying he had “raised the matter with Delhi, with the Government and as I said, I deplore violence. We want peace in Kashmir.”
Questioned about Britain’s often supportive policy towards Israel, Johnson said that his Government wanted a two-state solution. Regarding the continual building of illegal settlement in occupied Palestine, he insisted that it was condemned by ministers.

However, he refused to answer question of sanctions of any kind against Israel for continuously breaking international law by building illegal settlements and continuing to occupy Palestinian lands since 1967.

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

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