Backlash continues over Boris Johnson’s ‘unbelievably crass’ joke about Thatcher closing coal mines

'These are shameful comments from Boris Johnson, and reveal the Conservative party’s utter disregard for the communities still scarred by Thatcher’s closure of the mines'

Boris Johnson’s crass comments about Margaret Thatcher closing coal mines have continued to cause a backlash after the prime minister claimed that she gave a ‘big early start’ to green energy by deciding to close them.

He made the comments on a trip to Scotland yesterday, when asked about Labour leader

Keir Starmer’s comments about setting a ‘hard-edged’ timetable for stopping oil and gas exploration ahead of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November.

He said: “Look at what we’ve done already. We’ve transitioned away from coal in my lifetime. Thanks to Margaret Thatcher, who closed so many coalmines across the country, we had a big early start and we’re now moving rapidly away from coal all together”.

They prompted an immediate reaction, with Nicola Sturgeon tweeting: “Lives & communities in Scotland were utterly devastated by Thatcher’s destruction of the coal industry (which had zero to do with any concern she had for the planet). To treat that as something to laugh about is crass & deeply insensitive to that reality.”

Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy slammed the comments as ‘shameful’.

She said: “These are shameful comments from Boris Johnson, and reveal the Conservative party’s utter disregard for the communities still scarred by Thatcher’s closure of the mines and failure to deliver good new jobs in their place.”

Former Tory MP Anna Soubry said Boris was the ‘gift that just keeps on giving to the SNP’.

She tweeted: “Nothing funny about closing pits in my home county of #Notts. Took decades for communities to recover & rebuild. What will it take for sensible Tories to stand up to this offensive buffoon?”

Ian Lavery MP was even more scathing, describing Johnson as a ‘charlatan’. He said: “Appalled but not at the least surprised. This charlatan @BorisJohnson joined the Tory party to assist in the destruction of our mining jobs and communities now laughs and jokes about the pain and suffering the Tories viciously meted out on hard working people and their families.”

Basit Mahmood is co-editor of Left Foot Forward

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