Boris Johnson is today coming under growing pressure from Remainers to apologise for his burqa comments – or face being kicked out of the party.
The former Foreign Secretary and leading Brexiteer sparked fury saying that women wearing the head coverings look like ‘letter boxes’ or ‘bank robbers’.
And as the row rages for the third day, a string of Tory Remainers have publicly stuck the knife into Mr Johnson – demanding he apologise.
Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson today became the latest to publicly demand Mr Johnson say sorry for the ‘gratuitously offensive’ comments.
Leading Tory Remainers including party chairman Brandon Lewis, Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt and Remainer rebel Heidi Allen, also demanded an apology.
And Tory peer Eric Pickles, a former Conservative party chairman and minister, today said it is possible Mr Johnson will face disciplinary action over the remarks.
But Mr Johnson has far more support among the public – with a Sky poll finding that six out of ten Britons do not think his remarks were racist.
Tory Brexiteers Nadine Dorries and Andrew Bridgen and ex Ukip leader Nigel Farage, have all defended Mr Johnson over the comments.
The Prime Minister – who also backed Remain – yesterday called for him to apologise as he had ‘obviously offended’ people with his choice of words.
She said: ‘I am very clear, and the Government is very clear about our position on the burka, which is that women should be able to choose how to dress.
‘It’s up to a women how they should dress. It’s not up to other people to tell a woman how to dress.
‘But obviously these issues are ones that are openly discussed and it’s right that we have discussion about issues like this.’
And other senior Tory figures today also rounded on the ex Cabinet minister, urging him to say sorry.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright criticised the choice of words telling the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme: ‘I think we should all choose our language with care.’
He also said it was wrong to call the burqa ‘oppressive’.
While Lords Pickles told the programme Mr Johnson should not have used ‘illiberal language’, and added: ‘I think the sensible thing would be for him to apologise.’
He said the Conservative party could take disciplinary action against Mr Johnson if a formal complaint is made.