FORMER foreign secretary Boris Johnson is being set up for a “show trial” over his burka comments, prominent Tory backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg has warned.
The Conservative MP also said that Prime Minister Theresa May is not letting up in her pursuit of Mr Johnson due to “personal rivalry” and the issue can only play into the hands of Labour.
AFP or licensors Supporters of Boris Johnson have claimed disciplinary measures against him are motivated by ‘Brexit not burkas’
Mr Rees-Mogg, 49, added critics of Mr Johnson were suffering from “envy” and disciplinary measures were just being taken to stop him becoming leader.
So far Mr Johnson has consistently refused to apologise for a comment piece in where he compared women wearing burkas to “letterboxes” and “bank robbers”.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “When Margaret Thatcher was leader, she and Michael Heseltine were hardly soulmates but she would not have allowed personal rivalry to take the heat off the Labour Party.
“Nor would she have countenanced any attempt to have a show trial. Attacking Boris merely helps the Opposition.
Reuters The MP for North East Somerset has backed Mr Johnson in the ongoing row over his burka comments
“It is time for good sense to assert itself, free speech to be encouraged and as the summer rain falls for hotheaded action to be cooled down.”
A Downing Street source told the paper: “This is not about individuals or personalities.
“This is about the fact that a complaint has been received and the party has to investigate it.”
Supporters of Mr Johnson say the disciplinary action is motivated by “Brexit not burkas” and have accused the party of seeking revenge against Mr Johnson.
It has also been claimed a formal complaint has been made about the Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis after he called for Mr Johnson to apologise.
Reuters Mr Rees-Mogg has claimed Theresa May is motivated by ‘personal rivalry’ with Mr Johnson over her attempt at disciplinary measures
The complaint, said to have been made by a party member, said Mr Lewis was “deceiving” a Liberal Democrat MP who was on maternity leave by breaking “pairing” arrangements”.
He claims it was a mistake by the whips.
A Tory MP told the Telegraph: “If the party chairman is right in his preposterous claim that all complaints automatically trigger an investigation then Brandon Lewis has no alternative but to launch an immediate investigation into himself.”
In an increasingly bitter war of words between both sides, Tory MPs accused the party of mounting a “witch hunt” against Mr Johnson as Mr Lewis has been attempting to pour water on the heated argument.