Brown backs Straw over veil

Gordon BrownGordon Brown threw his weight behind Jack Straw last night and declared that it would be better for Britain if fewer Muslim women wore veils.

The Chancellor broke ranks to become the first Cabinet minister publicly to endorse Mr Straw’s call for women to discard the veil, which he described as a symbol of separation.

Tony Blair broke his silence on the issue too, but he stressed that women must be free to choose what they wear. In contrast, Mr Brown threw his weight behind the Leader of the Commons.

Asked by the BBC if Mr Straw had been right to say it would help integration if Muslim women did not wear the veil, he said: “Yes, but I think he is not proposing new laws, he is proposing a debate about the cultural changes that might have to take place in Britain. I would emphasis the importance of what we do to integrate people into our country including the language, history and curriculum.”

Pressed to say if he thought it would be “better for Britain” if fewer Muslim women wore veils, Mr Brown replied: “That is what Jack Straw has said and I support. But I think the important thing is that we have a debate on this.”

Daily Telegraph, 11 October 2006