In Brief

No. 10 refuses to say if PM thinks black people have lower IQs

Anger as official spokesman refuses to distance Boris Johnson from departed aide

There has been an outcry after Boris Johnson’s spokesman declined to say whether the prime minister thinks black people have lower IQs on average.

During what The Guardian describes as a “tense briefing with the media,” the prime minister’s deputy official spokesman refused several opportunities to distance Johnson from the views of his former adviser, Andrew Sabisky, who had claimed in the past that black Americans have a lower than average IQ than white Americans and are more likely to have an “intellectual disability”. 

According to reports, the deputy spokesman refused “32 times” to say whether the prime minister shared Sabisky's opinions, and would only say Johnson's views were “well publicised and documented”.

Asked whether the “well publicised” views were a reference to Johnson's articles referring to black people as “piccaninnies” and having “watermelon smiles”, the deputy spokesman said: “As I've said, the prime minister's views are well publicised and well documented.” A full transcript of the exchanges can be read here

The controversial Sabisky, 27, also suggested “enforced contraception” be used to prevent the creation of a “permanent underclass,” and tweeted: “I am always straight up in saying that women’s sport is more comparable to the Paralympics than it is to men’s.”

Following yesterday's media briefing, Downing Street announced that Sabisky has resigned. Commenting on his exit, Sabisky tweeted: “I wanted to help the government not be a distraction... accordingly I've decided to resign.”

Opposition figures had demanded that Downing Street sack Sabisky, who was hired by Johnson’s de facto chief of staff, Dominic Cummings, to work on special projects.

Labour party chairman Ian Lavery said: “It is disgusting that not only has Number 10 failed to condemn Andrew Sabisky's appalling comments, but also seems to have endorsed the idea that white people are more intelligent than black people.

“Boris Johnson should have the backbone to make a statement in his own words on why he has made this appointment, whether he stands by it, and his own views on the subject of eugenics.”

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon told The Independent: “These are really not acceptable headlines for any government to be generating - or allowing to be generated. They need to get a grip fast and demonstrate some basic but fundamental values in the terms of our public debate.”

The Daily Mail says ministers and their special advisers had been “flatly refusing” to work with Sabisky after he was found to have “advocated extreme positions”.

Alex Wickham, Buzzfeed’s senior political correspondent, tweeted that the cabinet was in “open revolt” over the issue. One source said: “Did nobody consider google? Jesus f**king Christ”.

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