Sajid Javid in swipe at Boris Johnson as he warns Tory leadership hopefuls against ‘exploiting division’

Posted On: 
7th June 2019

Sajid Javid has taken aim at Boris Johnson as he warned his Tory leadership rivals against "exploiting division" in their bid to become Prime Minister.

Sajid Javid is among a host of Tory MPs battling to be the next PM
PA Images

In a thinly-veiled attack on the former Foreign Secretary, the Cabinet minister said he believed some of his rivals were prepared to stir up tensions in a bid to win a future general election.

He said that no “serious politician” should use terms like "letterboxes" to describe Muslim veils – in a direct reference to controversial comments Mr Johnson made last year.

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Speaking at an event hosted by thinktank British Future on Thursday night, the Home Secretary noted the tactic used by some politicians of "deciding that one way to get votes is to appeal to division, to get people angry".

He added: “I do think there’s a decision we face as Conservatives: what kind of party do we want to be?

"Do we want to be a party that appeals broadly, to the whole country, a one nation party that tries to bring people together, or do we want to go down the route of division? For me it has to be the former.”

When asked if the warning applied to those running for the Tory leadership, he added: “Yes, my party’s at that crossroads. There are candidates that I believe, the way that they would try and win a future general election is by exploiting division. And that’s something I utterly reject.”

When asked about Mr Johnson’s claim in the Daily Telegraph last year that women in full-face niqabs looked like “letterboxes” or “bank robbers”, Mr Javid added: “I think they’re wrong. I don’t think those are the right comments. I don’t think any serious politician should use language like that.”

Mr Johnson is currently the frontrunner to succeed Theresa May, with Mr Javid, Dominic Raab, Jeremy Hunt, Matt Hancock, Andrea Leadsom, Rory Stewart, Esther McVey, Mark Harper and Sam Gyimah also in the race.