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Johnson has yet to comment on the row triggered by his Daily Telegraph column on Monday - but has show no sign of backing down. "I am told that I am being blasphemous for questioning the veil, and the extreme Wahhabist narrative which justifies the idea that it is required by Islam".

The former Foreign Secretary's supporters countered that his enemies were plotting against him in an attempt to scupper his hopes of succeeding Theresa May. If a woman wants to wear a burqa it is her right to do so.

The founder of the Conservative Muslim Forum, Lord Sheikh, has written to Mr Lewis demanding "serious action" and called for Mr Johnson to have the whip withdrawn.

Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis ordered Mr Johnson to apologise following a hail of criticism over the remarks, which were labelled "bigotry" by former Tory chair Baroness Warsi.

A source close to Johnson said, "We must not fall into the trap of shutting down the debate on hard issues". By a narrow margin of 48 per cent to 45 per cent they thought he did not need to say sorry for his comments.

"I spoke last night to my very experienced officers who deal with hate crime and, although we have not yet received any allegation of such a crime, I can tell you that my preliminary view having spoken to them is that what Mr Johnson said would not reach the bar for a criminal offence".

Astronomers discover weird rogue planet glowing with auroras
Brown dwarfs , hard to categorise, are too huge to be classified as planets and not big enough to be classified as stars. This rogue planet is believed to be quite young, 200 million years old and it is now placed at 20 light-years from us.

It is not to be confused with the hijab, which leaves the face uncovered, or the niqab, which leaves the eyes exposed.

The former foreign secretary compared women who wear the items to "letter boxes" and bank robbers.

He said: "It is not acceptable to describe someone as looking like a postbox or a robber".

Mr Johnson branded the burka "oppressive" and said it is "weird and bullying to expect people to cover their faces".

In his controversial column, Johnson said he opposed a ban on face-covering veils, but added it was "absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter-boxes".