Boris Johnson says UK shouldn't 'rewrite the past'
‘I will resist with every breath any attempt to remove Winston Churchill’s statue’: Boris Johnson says his predecessor was a hero and Britain MUST tackle the ‘substance’ of racial inequality without trying to ‘photoshop the past’
- Boris Johnson said it is ‘height of lunacy’ to accuse Winston Churchill of racism
- He warned Britain cannot alter it’s history of colonialism and exploitation
- At-risk landmarks – including statue of Churchill – were boarded up last week
- The structure was attacked by anti-fascist and Black Lives Matter protesters
Boris Johnson said he will resist attempts to tear down Winston Churchill’s statue ‘with every breath in his body’ after the structure was attacked by anti-fascist and Black Lives Matter protesters.
Mr Johnson said it is ‘the height of lunacy’ to accuse the wartime leader – who was Prime Minister twice – of racism after he lead Britain to victory against fascism in World War Two.
He warned that Britain cannot ‘photoshop’ it’s history of colonialism and exploitation and should instead seek to educate children on the controversial lives of the leaders that statues depict while addressing racial inequality nation-wide.
Churchill is widely considered a national hero and often leads polls on who was the greatest-ever Briton. His picture was chosen to appear on the new polymer £5 notes.
However, critics say his legacy is tarnished by controversial remarks he made about different races and his role in the Bengal famine in 1943 after Allied forces halted food supplies, leading to an estimated 3 million deaths.
Boris Johnson (pictured in a London shopping centre today) said he will resist attempts to tear down Winston Churchill’s statue ‘with every breath in his body’ after the structure was attacked by anti-fascist and Black Lives Matter protesters
An anti-racist rally and a pro-statue counter-protest descended into chaos over the weekend. Pictured: One demonstrator kicks another at a protest at the Cenotaph
On Saturday, when demonstrators descended on the capital to ‘protect’ the statues, one was caught on camera urinating next to a memorial to PC Keith Palmer, the policeman murdered buy an Islamic terrorist during an attack on Parliament
Mr Johnson said it is ‘the height of lunacy’ to accuse the wartime leader – who was Prime Minister twice – of racism after he lead Britain to victory against ‘racist tyranny’ in World War Two. Pictured: Demonstrations at the boarded-up Churchill monument over the weekend
The monument to Britain’s greatest war-time leader Winston Churchill was covered in graffiti last weekend (left, being cleaned off) that said Churchill ‘was a racist’ while a protester attempted to set a union flag on fire on the Cenotaph. It has since been boarded up
The Nelson Mandela statue before and after it was covered up by large boards to protect it from graffiti during clashes
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Johnson, who wrote a biography of Churchill in 2014, said: ‘We need to address the present, not attempt to rewrite the past – and that means we cannot and must not get sucked into never-ending debate about which well-known historical figure is sufficiently pure or politically correct to remain in public view.’
Talking of Churchill, he said: ‘He was a hero, and I expect I am not alone in saying that I will resist with every breath in my body any attempt to remove that statue from Parliament Square, and the sooner his protective shielding comes off the better.’
He added: ‘If we start purging the record and removing the images of all but those whose attitudes conform to our own, we are engaged in a great lie, a distortion of our history – like some public figure furtively trying to make themselves look better.’
Mounted police were seen in an altercation with protesters who threw bottles and cans at them next to the boarded up statue of Nelson Mandela in London over the weekend
At-risk landmarks – including the Cenotaph and statues of Churchill and Nelson Mandela – were boarded up ahead of predicted clashes between Black Lives Matter protesters and far-right demonstrators looking to protect them over the weekend.
The monument to Britain’s greatest war-time leader was covered in graffiti that said Churchill ‘was a racist’ while a protester attempted to set a union flag on fire on the Cenotaph in this month’s clashes.
Sadiq Khan was accused of ‘surrendering’ the capital’s streets ‘to the mob’ after he ordered the boarding up of the monument to Britain’s greatest prime minister and the nearby Cenotaph.
Mr Johnson said it is ‘outrageous’ that the statue needed covering up and asked: ‘What has the world come to when one of this country’s greatest ever leaders – perhaps our greatest – has to be shielded from the wrath of the mob?’
Anti-racism protesters tore down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston and rolled him into a harbour last Sunday.
The anti-racist rally and a pro-statue counter-protest descended into hooliganism driven by a hard core of violent activists on both sides yesterday. Pictured: Clashes in Trafalgar Square on Saturday
A man was beaten to a bloody pulp in Trafalgar Square on Saturday as the Black Lives Matter protests turned violent shortly before the 5pm curfew kicked in
A group of men carry an injured man away after he was allegedly attacked by some of the crowd of protesters in Southbank near Waterloo station on Saturday
And when demonstrators descended on the capital last on Saturday to ‘protect’ the statues, one was caught on camera urinating next to a memorial to PC Keith Palmer, the policeman murdered buy an Islamic terrorist during an attack on Parliament.
A 28-year-old man from Essex was arrested over the desecration yesterday.
The Prime Minister was quick to condemn the racist thugs who wreaked havoc across the city on Saturday.
His comments came as the PM pledged to establish a cross-government commission to examine racial inequality in Britain.
A man, whose face was covered in blood, was seen lying on the floor near Waterloo Station in London as the protests turned violent on Saturday
Boris Johnson spoke out against what he described as the ‘racist thuggery’ seen during demonstrations on Saturday after facing criticism for his response to the unrest this week
Mr Johnson told broadcasters: ‘What I really want to do as Prime Minister is change the narrative so we stop the sense of victimisation and discrimination.
‘We stamp out racism and we start to have a real sense of expectation of success.
‘That’s where I want to get to but it won’t be easy.’
However the announcement, which included little detail, was sharply criticised by opposition parties.
Police fought to maintain control in Trafalgar Square on Saturday amid both Black Lives Matter and pro-statue protests in London today
A man identified as a far-right protester was carried to safety as animosity was briefly set aside on a day of clashes in London between rival groups and police last night
For Labour, shadow equalities secretary Marsha de Cordova said: ‘We are in the midst of a global health pandemic that has sharply exposed deep structural inequalities which have long since needed urgently addressing.
‘That the Prime Minister now says he wants to ‘change the narrative… so we stop the sense of victimisation and discrimination’ is condescending and designed to let himself and his Government off the hook.
Liberal Democrat equalities spokeswoman Christine Jardine said the commission was a ‘welcome first step’ but said the Government must go further.
‘Too many people’s lives are blighted by discrimination, inequality and injustice. The Government must move further and faster to redress institutional racism in the criminal justice system and many other parts of our society,’ she said.
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