Splits deepen over British minister Boris Johnson's burqa comments

Theresa May and Boris Johnson

He also said the MCB received Islamophobic hate mail off the back of the furore, some describing Muslims as "barbarians".

The former Foreign Secretary likened people who wear burkas as "letter boxes" or "bank robbers" in a newspaper column earlier in the week.

His comments on the burka have created yet more infighting within the Conservative party.

He warned that Mrs May was setting up a "show trial" to prevent the former Foreign Secretary becoming Conservative Party leader and that she was principally motivated by "envy" of the "potential" Mr Johnson has.

Founder and president of the Conservative Muslim Forum Lord Sheikh told the BBC the party should take "severe action" against Mr Johnson.

"He will advocate literally anything to play to the crowd of the moment".

There were further signs of grassroots Tory anger over the affair, with the Telegraph giving over its whole letters page to reaction from readers after being "inundated" with messages of support for Mr Johnson.

The complaints will be looked at by an independent panel which could refer Mr Johnson to the party's board - it has the power to expel him.

He continues: "Boris Johnson, because of his many successes, popularity with voters and charisma, attracts more than his fair share of this disagreeable vice".

The MP for North East Somerset wrote in the newspaper: "The howls of outrage are suspect and the motivations dubious", over the criticisms of Boris.

Boris Johnson was expected to run for the Conservative Party leadership following David Cameron's resignation. Johnson's representatives have said he won't apologize.

On Friday, the UK's equalities watchdog said Mr Johnson's remarks were "inflammatory and divisive" and his comments risked "vilifying Muslim women".

The Downing Street source said the party has to investigate any complaint.

He continued, questioning the motives behind the witch hunt launched against Boris by Tory Chair, Brandon Lewis, and backed publicly by May: "Why would senior Conservatives want to attack so popular a figure for saying something that had been said before which they had not objected to?".

But there have also been suggestions that he could be ordered to attend a diversity training course.

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