Jacob Rees-Mogg defends Boris Johnson for burka letterbox comments
Jacob Rees-Mogg has denounced an investigation into allegedly Islamaphobic comments by Boris Johnson as a show trial.
The arch-Eurosceptic suggested the probe is being driven by Theresa Mays personal rivalry with Mr Johnson and is an attempt to stop him from becoming leader.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Ress-Mogg hinted Conservative politicians are attacking the ex-foreign secretary because they were envious of his many successes, popularity with voters and charisma.
The howls of outrage directed at the former figurehead of the Leave campaign were suspect and the motivations of those attacking him dubious, said the North East Somerset MP.
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? asked Mr Rees-Mogg.
This may explain the attempt to use the Conservative Partys disciplinary procedures, but it has been handled so ham-fistedly that it brings only sympathy and support for Mr Johnson.
Mr Johnson, who is holidaying abroad, is yet to respond to the furore sparked by his article on Monday in which he said Muslim women wearing the burka looked like letter boxes or bank robbers.
Mr Rees-Mogg said: 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, whose own deep internal divisions are buried in other news now, nor would she have countenanced any attempt to have a show trial.
And he added: Attacking Boris merely helps the Opposition. It is time for good sense to assert itself, free speech to be encouraged and, as the summer rain falls, for hot-headed action to be cooled down.
Mr Johnsons comments on the burka have been branded inflammatory and divisive by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, but the watchdog made clear it was not launching its own investigation.
Chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath said: The effectiveness of our democratic society depends on freedom of expression and the expression of offensive and intolerant opinions is generally not unlawful.
Boris Johnsons use of language in this instance, which risks dehumanising and vilifying Muslim women, is inflammatory and divisive.
Political figures should lead by example, conducting debates in a responsible manner and language such as this can inhibit legitimate dialogue.