UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson is facing a backlash over a 20-year-old column where he said young people had “an almost Nigerian interest in money”.
According to The Guardian UK, the column was written when he was a writer and editor of The Spectator. The statement ”Nigerian interest in money” implied Nigerians love money or are greedy.
The prime minister was also accused of referring to black people as “piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles”. In a diary piece for the Independent in 1999, the Conservative Party leader reportedly wrote that Tony Blair, former UK PM, had made people feel good about getting rich.
“All the young people I know ie those under 30 are just as avaricious as we flinty Thatcherite yuppies of the 1980s in fact, they have an almost Nigerian interest in money and gadgets of all kinds, ” he wrote in the column.
Also, he reportedly wrote that Islam has caused the Muslim world to be “literally centuries behind” the west. In another old column, Johnson was said to have blamed single mothers for “producing a generation of ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate children”, saying that social housing was an enticement for them to become pregnant.
The columns were said to have come to light after Sajid Javid, the chancellor, refused to say whether he would use the terms “bank robber” or “letterbox” to describe Muslim women who wear a burka, as Johnson reportedly did in 2018.
Reacting, the Labour Party said the comments followed “a pattern of sexist and misogynistic words and behaviour” by Johnson. Shamj Chakrabarti, shadow attorney-general, also said:
“These unearthed comments further reveal Boris Johnson’s contempt for women and families, as he hypocritically attacks what he appallingly describes as ‘illegitimate’ children.”
Weyman Bennett, the co-convenor of Stand Up to Racism, described Johnson’s words as “deeply racist and offensive”. This can be added to the ‘piccaninnies’ and ‘watermelon smiles’, the abject refusal to properly apologise and change his behaviour around racism.
“Boris Johnson is unfit to be a prime minister that represents the entire United Kingdom. He had demonstrated this by lying and falsely representing black, Asian and different communities inside this country.
“This is deeply offensive and unforgivable and should not be ignored and he should be held to account.”