Transcript shows Boris Johnson’s spokesperson refusing to answer whether PM believes black people are mentally inferior

Liam James
REUTERS

The transcript of a Downing Street press briefing shows a spokesperson for the prime minister repeatedly refusing to answer questions over Boris Johnson's views on eugenics.

The prime minister's deputy official spokesperson was asked by journalists whether or not Mr Johnson agrees with comments made by a recently appointed aide that black people are mentally inferior and that the use of contraception should be legally enforced to prevent the breeding of a “permanent underclass”.

Questions over the prime minister's views on the topic of eugenics were raised after it came to light that Andrew Sabisky, a former Downing Street aide appointed by Mr Johnson's senior adviser Dominic Cummings, had made a number of controversial comments on the matter in the past.

Mr Sabisky resigned later on Monday after the briefing, citing media attention on his views.

In 2014, on a post on Mr Cummings' website, Mr Sabisky wrote: “One way to get around the problems of unplanned pregnancies creating a permanent underclass would be to legally enforce universal uptake of long-term contraception at the onset of puberty. Vaccination laws give it a precedent, I would argue.”

In another post, he wrote: “If the mean black American IQ is (best estimate based on a century's worth of data) around 85, as compared to a mean white American IQ of 100, then if IQ is normally distributed, you will see a far greater percentage of blacks than whites in the range of IQs 75 or below, at which point we are close to the typical boundary for mild mental retardation.”

Journalists asked the prime minister's deputy official spokesperson whether or not Mr Johnson agrees with the comments made by the Downing Street aide in a press briefing on Monday.

Read the full transcript of the briefing below:

Journalists asking the prime minister's deputy official spokesperson: Does Mr Sabisky have a job in Downing Street?

Spokesperson: As I say, I'm not going to be commenting on individual appointments.

Q: Does the PM think it's worth thinking about mandatory contraception to prevent a permanent underclass in the UK?

Spokesperson: As I say in relation to this subject, I won't be commenting on individual appointments. The prime minister's views are well publicised and documented.

Q: Does the PM think black people have a lower IQ than white people?

Spokesperson: I've answered your question.

Q: That was a different question.

The prime minister's views are well publicised and well documented.

Q: Can you remind us of the prime minister's views?

Spokesperson: As I say, they're well publicised and well documented.

Q: Can you direct us to where to find the PM's views on eugenics?

Spokesperson: I've answered the question.

Q: You haven't answered the question.

Spokesperson: I've been clear, I'm not commenting on individual appointments and as I say the PM's views on a range of subjects is well publicised and well documented.

Q: Does the PM believe that women's sport is closer to the paralympics than men's sport?

Spokesperson: As I say, the PM's views are well publicised and well documented.

Q: Eustice said it was for the PM to answer - is it?

Spokesperson: As I say, I'm not going to be commenting on individual appointments.

Q: Who will?

Spokesperson: As I say, I'm not commenting on individual appointments.

Q: Would the PM condemn the views attributed to his adviser?

Spokesperson: As I've said, the PM's views on a whole range of topics are well publicised.

Q: If you find anything on those topics can you send them to us by email?

[No answer]

Q: Any involvement by the cabinet office in the recruitment?

Spokesperson: I appreciate the persistence, but I'm not going to be commenting on individual appointments.

Q: Can you comment generally on the appointment of aides?

Spokesperson: I would point to the guidance on the cabinet office website. In response to this one in particular I won't be commenting any further.

Q: Is the Cabinet office looking again at that process to see if it's good enough?

Spokesperson: I would point you to their advice online.

Q: If we can't find a reference to the PM's views on eugenics, what inference can we draw from that?

Spokesperson: As I've said the PM's views are well documented.

Q: They're not.

Spokesperson: As I've said the PM's views are well documented.

Q: None of us know what they are. Could you just tell us?

Spokesperson: As I've said I've answered this several times now.

Q: Should we take it from your lack of comment that he's refusing to condemn the views set out by contractor?

Spokesperson: Not at all, I've been clear. The PM's views are well documented.

Q: You haven't. We don't know what the PM's views are. That's why we're asking.

Spokesperson: I've answered this question.

Q: With respect, you haven't. Should we take it then that if we cannot find a clear condemnation of these specific issues in the PM's previously published remarks, that means the PM does not condemn these suggestions by his own adviser?

Spokesperson: As I've said the PM's views are well publicised and well documented.

Q: Does the PM expect his contractors to reflect his own views?

Spokesperson: As I say, I'm not going to comment on individual appointments. And the prime minister's views are well documented. I appreciate the persistence in this but I'm not going to be commenting further.

Q: Shapps said these were not the government's views, distanced himself. Does the PM think he was right or wrong to do that?

Spokesperson: The transport secretary said what he said. I've said what I'm going to say, which is that the prime minister's views are well documented. I won't be commenting any further on this.

Q: Was the transport secretary speaking on behalf of the government or as an individual?

Spokesperson: I didn't hear specifically what the transport secretary said.

Q: Was he right in saying that? Was he speaking for the government?

Spokesperson: The transport secretary was speaking as the transport secretary. I've answered the question on behalf of the PM. He was speaking as the transport secretary.

Q: One of the PM's most well documented views on race is calling black people "picaninnies". Should we take that as his well documented view that you're referring to?

Spokesperson: As I've said, the prime minister's views are well publicised and well documented.

Q: What about the one about "watermelon smiles"?

Spokesperson: I appreciate the persistence, but I'm not going to be saying any more on this.

Q: By saying you won't comment on appointments, are you confirming he has been appointed?

Spokesperson: As I've said I won't be commenting on individual appointments.

Q: He's been appointed, that's why you won't comment?

Spokesperson: I won't be commenting on individual appointments.

Q: How can we find out whether he's been appointed?

Spokesperson: As I say, I won't be commenting on individual appointments.

Q: Don't you have to confirm special advisers?

Spokesperson: Special advisers are set out in the usual way and they're published in the usual way on the cabinet office website.

Q: Will any ministers be appearing before the commons liaison committee to discuss the reshuffle?

Spokesperson: I'm not aware of any invitation, but the PM appears in front of the liaison committee as and when required.

Q: There has been a call for Mr Cummings to appear before the liaison committee. Would the PM be happy to see that?

Spokesperson: I think it's for politicians and MPs to appear before the liaison committee. As I said I haven't seen an invite yet.

Q: To be absolutely clear, you're refusing to say what the PM's views on the intelligence of black people are?

Spokesperson: I'm not saying that. I'm saying the PM's views are well publicised and well documented.

[BREAK FOR OTHER DISCUSSION]

Q: When we leave this briefing, we don't know whether the PM is in favour of or not in favour of eugenics?

Spokesperson: I haven't said that. I'm saying the PM's views are well publicised and well documented.

Q: What are they? It should be a really easy question to answer.

Spokesperson: His views are well publicised and well documented.

Q: If we can't find a record of his view on eugenics we won't know his views on eugenics, that's what you're saying?

Spokesperson: I think there are certain things that are a given. And the Prime Minister's views are well documented.

Q: What is a given? What's a given about eugenics?

Spokesperson: As I say, the PM's views are well publicised and well documented.

[BREAK FOR OTHER DISCUSSION]

Q: Can you understand why we might think these are the PM's views, considering he's hired someone who holds these views? That he condones them?

Spokesperson: I haven't given any indication of that. I've simply stated the PM's views are well documented and well published.