- Hannah Mckay/Reuters
- MPs call for Boris Johnson to be sacked following his comments about Libya at the Conservative conference. The foreign secretary said that Sirte in Libya only has to “clear the dead bodies away” to become the new Dubai. Tory backbencher Heidi Allen says he “must be sacked for this.” Labour calls the remarks “unbelievably crass, callous and cruel.”
LONDON – Conservative MPs are calling for Boris Johnson to be sacked after he said that a Libyan city only has to “clear the dead bodies away” to become the new Dubai.
MPs including Heidi Allen and Anna Soubry have said that Theresa May should sack Johnson after the foreign secretary made the comments in reference to Sirte at a Conservative conference fringe meeting on Tuesday.
Sarah Wollaston, an influential backbench MP told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that his remarks were “crass, poorly judged and grossly insensitive” and that he should “consider his position” after apologising.
Johnson made the comment after being asked what it was like to visit Libya as foreign secretary. He spoke about the potential of Sirte, drawing awkward laughter from the audience.
He said: “There’s a group of UK business people, wonderful guys who want to invest in Sirte, on the coast, near where Gaddafi was actually captured and executed as some of you may have seen.
“And they literally have a brilliant vision to turn Sirte, with the help of the municipality of Sirte, to turn it into the next Dubai. The only thing they’ve got to do is clear the dead bodies away and then they’ll be there.”
Hear Johnson’s comments below:
— Nadeem Ahmed (@Muqadaam) October 3, 2017
Allen, a Tory backbencher tweeted it was “100% unacceptable from anyone, let alone the foreign secretary. Boris must be sacked for this. He does not represent my party.”
Former Conservative minister Soubry tweeted that Johnson is “embarrassing and the PM should sack him.”
Johnson attempted to defuse the situation on Tuesday night. He tweeted: “Shame people with no knowledge or understanding of Libya want to play politics with the appallingly dangerous reality in Sirte.
“The reality there is that the clearing of corpses of Daesh fighters has been made much more difficult by IEDs and booby traps. That’s why Britain is playing a key role in reconstruction and why I have visited Libya twice this year in support.”
Damian Green, the first secretary of state, told Sky News on Wednesday morning: “We should all be careful in our language in relation to sensitive and difficult situations like Libya… including Boris.”
Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry labelled Johnson’s words “unbelievably crass, callous and cruel.”
She said: “If these words came from the business people themselves, it would be considered offensive enough, but for them to come from the foreign secretary is simply a disgrace… he does not belong in the office of foreign secretary.”
Liberal Democrat deputy leader Jo Swinson said: “Diplomacy is a basic requirement for the role of foreign secretary.
“This latest unbelievably crass and insensitive comment about an issue of such importance is further proof Boris is not up to the job. May needs to get her house in order and sack him.”
Johnson’s comments followed his conference speech in which he appeared to back the prime minister after a series of embarrassing interventions.