"I would like to know if you will be voting for Boris Johnson, well known for his casual use of racist language" Mark Ingall, Leader of Harlow Council
Mark Ingall, Leader of Harlow Council


Dear Mr Halfon,

On the 3rd  June 2019 you wrote to me regarding the visit to Harlow by a suspended Labour MP. You asked me a number of questions about the planned visit to which I gave you a full, candid and detailed response. I hope you will now do the same in response to questions that I have about who you will be voting for to be the next Leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister of our country. Now that your preferred candidate, Sajid Javid, has been eliminated and just two candidates remain, I am sure I am not the only resident keen to know who will be receiving your vote.

Specifically, I would like to know if you will be voting for Boris Johnson, well known for his casual use of racist language, who enjoys the public support of the Leader of the Conservative group of Councillors in Harlow and the Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group?

To serve as a reminder I will include just a few of the many notable examples of Mr Johnson’s longstanding use of unacceptable language.

In 2002 in a column written for the Daily Telegraph, Mr Johnson used two racial slurs to refer to African people. “Tony Blair would love touring the continent”, Johnson wrote, “because he will be greeted by ‘cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies’ – a racist term for an African child – and “the tribal warriors will all break out in watermelon smiles to see the big white chief”.

Writing in The Spectator in 2012, Mr Johnson suggested that Africans would be better off ruled by white colonisers. He said: “Consider Uganda, pearl of Africa, as an example of the British record. The British planted coffee and cotton and tobacco, and they were broadly right. If left to their own devices, the natives would rely on nothing but the instant carbohydrate gratification of the plantain. The best fate for Africa would be if the old colonial powers, or their citizens, scrambled once again in her direction; on the understanding that this time they will not be asked to feel guilty.”

And as recently as August 2018 in a column for the Daily Telegraph, Mr Johnson described women who wore the niqab as looking like “letter boxes” and “bank robbers”.

My questions for you are as follows;

  1. Do you agree with me that racism of any kind has no place in politics and that those who regularly use racial and religious slurs are unfit to hold public office?
  2. Given the above, do you agree with me that Harlow residents who are of African descent and/or who are Muslim have every reason to be alarmed at the prospect of Mr Johnson becoming Prime Minister?
  3. In the interests of community cohesion and as a demonstration of your recognition of the unacceptability of this country being led by someone who is widely known to use racist language, will you publicly state that you will not be voting for Mr Johnson? And will you join me in urging Conservative Councillors to make the same public statements?

I look forward to your response.

Mark Ingall
Leader of Harlow Council


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