Labour attacks Boris Johnson for novel that used 'pernicious antisemitic tropes'

The prime minister's 'Seventy Two Virgins' described a Jewish character as an unethical businessman with a large nose, who exploits immigrant workers and black women


Boris Johnson depicted Jews as controlling the media and being able to “fiddle” elections in a novel he wrote when he was a backbench Conservative MP, it has been revealed.

In Seventy Two Virgins, which Mr Johnson wrote in 2004, he described a situation in which people suggest “maybe there was some kind of fiddling of the figures” in an election by “oligarchs” of “Jewish origin.”

The passage, revealed by the Independent amid an election where Labour's antisemitism has been a major issue, was from a part of the story in which countries around the world are made to vote on whether Guantanamo Bay prisoners should be released.

Mr Johnson wrote: “And the news from the voting was still bad for America, though not as bad as it had seemed at first. Some countries, such as Saudi Arabia were reporting almost 100 per cent insistence that the prisoners be sent home.

"But there were odd pockets of support for the President. He might have thought that Russia, after her humiliation in the Cold War, would take the chance to put her boot on the neck of the old adversary.

"But no, the Russians had their problems with Islamic terror. Maybe there was some kind of fiddling of the figures by the oligarchs who ran the TV stations (and who were mainly, as some lost no time in pointing out, of Jewish origin), but it seemed that Russia, one of the most populous countries in the world, was voting heavily for America."

Mr Johnson, who visited Grodzinski Bakery in Golders Green on Friday in a bid to woo voters in Finchley and Golders Green, also described a Jewish character called Sammy Katz, as having a “proud nose and curly hair.”

He described the character as someone who “relied on immigrant labour” and visits the red light district in search for “a bit of black”.

The prime minister also described the Jewish character as having the eyes of an “unblinking snake” and someone who sends his son “pathetic presents, every five years, of low-denomination bills”.

Mr Johnson, who was an MP and shadow minister for the arts when the book was published, has been criticised for his depiction of a Jewish character as an unethical businessman with a large nose, who exploits immigrant workers and black women.

Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary, said: “Boris Johnson’s writing invokes some of the oldest and most pernicious antisemitic tropes about Jewish people controlling the media, and associating Jewish people with shady business, financial greed and being responsible for oppression and exploitation.

“This rhetoric fuels prejudice towards Jewish people. These are his own words as a narrator, not those of a character and he wrote them while he was an MP and a Conservative Shadow Minister.”

Elsewhere in the book is a portrayal of a fictional terror attack on Westminster in which Mr Johnson describes Kosovan Muslims as having “hook noses.”

He also introduces a group of characters as “pikeys”, a slur for Travellers.

Christine Jardine, the Liberal Democrats’ equalities spokesperson, told The Independent: “The rise of anti-Jewish hatred must be condemned, wherever and whenever, and in all its forms. Boris Johnson has once again demonstrated that he is not fit to be Prime Minister.”

The Conservative party, which is investigating three parliamentary candidates over antisemitism - including one MP hopeful who allegedly liked a Nazi slogan on Facebook, has been approached for comment.

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