Jacob Rees-Mogg warns Theresa May against Boris Johnson 'show trial' in burqa row
Top Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg has warned Theresa May that an investigation into Boris Johnson’s comments on the burka would be a “show trial”.
The chair of the powerful European Research Group of pro-Brexit Tory MPs said the investigation was the result of the Prime Minister's “personal rivalry” with Mr Johnson over the party leadership.
In an article for the Telegraph, Mr Rees-Mogg also said it was “hard to see” how the former foreign secretary breached the party’s code.
Mr Johnson sparked a racism row last week after describing women in burqas as looking like “bank robbers” or “letter boxes”.
Conservative chair Brandon Lewis has launched the preliminary stages of a formal probe into the matter, while Mrs May has ordered the Uxbridge MP to apologise.
But Mr Rees-Mogg wrote: “Could it be that there is a nervousness that a once and probably future leadership contender is becoming too popular and needs to be stopped?
“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.”
An internal party panel is set to examine Mr Johnson’s comments and decide whether a full investigation should be launched.
According to reports the ex-Cabinet minster could end up with a mild censure and having to take diversity training - but will not have the whip withdrawn.
Mr Lewis meanwhile has come under fire from Tory MPs who have weighed in to defend Mr Johnson.
According to the Telegraph a counter complaint has been lodged against him about a parliamentary blunder last month that saw him vote when he was supposed to be 'paired off' with an MP on maternity leave.