Boris Johnson suggested Nigerian people are obsessed with money in ‘racist’ resurfaced column

‘This is deeply offensive and unforgivable,’ says anti-racism campaigner 

Zoe Tidman
Thursday 28 November 2019 15:18
Comments
Boris Johnson challenged by Fiona Bruce over comments written in columns

Boris Johnson has been accused of making “racist and offensive” comments by implying Nigerians are obsessed with money in an article which has resurfaced.

The prime minister wrote that young people “have an almost Nigerian interest in money and gadgets of all kinds” in October 1999, while editor of The Spectator magazine.

He said the under-30s he knew “are just as avaricious as we flinty Thacherite yuppies of the 1980s” before comparing them to people from the west African country in a diary entry for The Independent on Sunday.

Weyman Bennett, the co-convenor of Stand Up to Racism, called the remarks “deeply racist and offensive”.

“This can be added to the ‘piccaninnies’ and ‘watermelon smiles’; the abject refusal to properly apologise and change his behaviour around racism,” he told The Guardian, which uncovered the old column.

“This is deeply offensive and unforgivable,” he said. “He should be held to account.”

Mr Johnson’s article discussed the impact of the former prime minister Tony Blair, who he wrote “had found a way of making people feel good about getting rich”.

The prime minister came under fire on the same day for remarks directed towards single mothers in a newly unearthed 1995 column for The Spectator, in which he called their children “ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate”.

He also wrote it was “outrageous that married couples should pay for single mothers’ desire to procreate independently of men”.

Mr Johnson has faced criticism for comments in past newspaper columns as he ramps up his election campaign.

Last week, it emerged that he wrote he thought he was more likely to be attacked by black youths than white ones in an old Guardian article, saying “if that is racial prejudice, then I am guilty”.

Mr Johnson defended past comments on Question Time when host Fiona Bruce recently asked him about remarks criticised for Islamophobia and homophobia.

“If you go through all my articles with a fine-tooth comb and pick out individual phrases, there’s no doubt that you can take out things that can be made to seem offensive,” he replied.

The Conservative Party has been approached for comment.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in