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Downing St refuses to say if Boris Johnson agrees with adviser who suggested black people are mentally inferior and backed compulsory contraception

Number 10 declines opportunity to distance PM from controversial views of Andrew Sabisky, recruited by Dominic Cummings

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Monday 17 February 2020 12:47 GMT
Dominic Cummings walks into Downing Street wearing baggy jeans

Downing Street has refused to say whether Boris Johnson agrees with an adviser who suggested black people were mentally inferior and advocated compulsory contraception to prevent a “permanent underclass”.

A Number 10 spokesman was repeatedly asked at a Westminster media briefing whether the PM wished to distance himself from a string of controversial remarks made by Andrew Sabisky, who was recruited by senior advisor Dominic Cummings.

Presented with a series of Sabisky’s comments and asked whether the PM backed them or would condemn them, the spokesman responded only: “The prime minister’s views are well publicised and well documented.”

Despite frequent requests, the Downing Street spokesman was unable to point to a single example of the prime minister expressing a view on eugenics or the intelligence of black people, merely saying that reporters would find that his opinions were “well-documented” on the public record.

He declined to say whether Mr Johnson’s views on the issue were reflected in a magazine article in which the PM referred to black people as “picaninnies” with “watermelon smiles”.

Mr Sabisky resigned later on Monday, citing the media attention on his views.

Whilst editor of The Spectator, Mr Johnson published an article in which columnist Taki wrote: “On average, Orientals are slower to mature, less randy, less fertile, and have larger brains and higher IQ scores. Blacks are at the other pole, and whites fall somewhere in the middle, although closer to the Orientals than the blacks.”

Asked subsequently about his contributor’s remarks, Mr Johnson described Taki as a “very distinguished columnist”.

The PM is coming under growing pressure to sack Mr Sabisky over comments prior to his appointment in which he:

- Called for the young to undergo compulsory contraception to prevent the creation of “a permanent underclass”;

- Disparagingly compared women’s sport to the Paralympics; and

- Suggested that black people were more likely than whites to be “close to mental retardation”.

The 27-year-old self-styled “superforecaster” responded to Mr Cummings’ call for “misfits and weirdos” to apply to work at 10 Downing Street.

But his extreme views immediately sparked outrage online after it emerged that he had made comments about the IQs of black people on a blog post published in 2014.

Andrew Sabisky (BBC)

In it, he wrote: ‘If the mean black American IQ is (best estimate based on a century’s worth of data) around 85, as compared to a mean white American IQ of 100, then if IQ is normally distributed, you will see a far greater percentage of blacks than whites in the range of IQs 75 or below, at which point we are close to the typical boundary for mild mental retardation. That parsimoniously explains the greater diagnostic rates for blacks when it comes to ‘Intellectual Disability’.”

Mr Sabiksy has also come under fire for previously stating that much of the ‘hue and cry’ against female genital mutilation ‘looks more like a moral panic’. He also suggested that giving children mental performance-enhancing drugs which might pose a risk to their lives was probably worth ‘a dead kid once a year’. In 2016, the Cambridge graduate argued the case for eugenics, which aims to improve the genetic quality of the population by excluding certain groups judged to be ‘inferior’, writing: “Eugenics are about selecting ‘for’ good things.”

The Downing Street spokesman had earlier refused to confirm his appointment or to say whether he was working as a special adviser to the PM paid by the taxpayer.

And he appeared to back away from the attempt by cabinet minister Grant Shapps to distance himself from Mr Sabisky at the weekend, when the transport secretary said that his reported comments were views that “neither I or the government share in any shape or form”.

Grant Shapps avoids answering questions on controversial comments made by Andrew Sabisky

Asked whether Mr Shapps was speaking on behalf of the government, the No 10 spokesman replied: “I didn’t hear specifically what the transport secretary said. The transport secretary was speaking as the transport secretary. I have answered the question on behalf of the prime minister.”

Labour party chairman Ian Lavery said: “It is disgusting that not only has Number 10 failed to condemn Andrew Sabisky’s appalling comments, but also seems to have endorsed the idea that white people are more intelligent than black people.

“Boris Johnson should have the backbone to make a statement in his own words on why he has made this appointment, whether he stands by it, and his own views on the subject of eugenics.”

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "These are really not acceptable headlines for any government to be generating - or allowing to be generated. They need to get a grip fast and demonstrate some basic but fundamental values in the terms of our public debate."

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