Tory leadership hopeful Boris Johnson has been criticised for remarks made at a hustings in Darlington on Friday. His own sister author Rachel Johnson mocked him for his claims that he wanted immigrants to “feel British” and speak English at home, stating that she did not know what he meant by this because “we spoke ancient Greek at home.”
“I want everybody who comes here and makes their lives here to be and to feel British, that’s the most important thing, and to learn English,” he said. “And too often there are parts of our country, and parts of London still and other cities as well, where English is not spoken by some people as their first language, and that needs to be changed and people need to be allowed to take part in the economy and in society in the way that that shared experience would allow.”
Gaelic-speaking SNP MP Angus MacNeil immediately criticised these comments, and said on Twitter: “Boris is just moronic and clueless.”
Mr Johnson denied insulting Welsh-speaking communities and said he wanted them to speak English “as well” as their first language. He said: “I love Welsh. I once gave a whole speech in Welsh.
“(Welsh speakers) should learn to speak English as well. But I’m very keen we should get up to our target of a million Welsh speakers.”
Rachel Johnson tweeted: “We spoke Ancient Greek at home I genuinely don’t know what he’s on about.”
While the parents of NY-born Boris Johnson were British, his maternal great-grandfather was Circassian-Turkish journalist Ali Kemal, a secular muslim, and Johnson’s mother was also the granddaughter of Russian Jewish palaeographer Elias Avery Lowe and his maternal great-grandfather was a Lithuanian Jew and Orthodox Jewish rabbi. His paternal ancestry was English and French. In reference to his ancestry, Boris has described himself as a “one-man melting pot” thanks to a combination of Muslims, Jews and Christians in his family history.