By Karim El-Bar
LONDON (AA) – A newly appointed aide to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigned this week after his controversial comments on race, women and welfare claimants were uncovered.
Andrew Sabisky was initially hired in line with a policy created by Johnson’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings, himself controversial, to hire “misfits and weirdos.”
Sabisky’s views caused outrage across Britain’s political spectrum.
What he said
“The media hysteria about my old stuff online is mad, but I wanted to help [the government], not be a distraction. Accordingly, I’ve decided to resign as a contractor. I hope No. 10 hires more [people with] good geopolitical forecasting track records and that media learn to stop selective quoting,” Sabisky tweeted Monday.
Over the weekend, local media had uncovered old posts written by Sabisky, who described himself as a “superforecaster.”
On race, he wrote in a 2014 blog post: “There are excellent reasons to think the very real racial differences in intelligence are significantly – even mostly – genetic in origin, though the degree is of course a very serious subject of scholarly debate…Whether the politicians will pay any attention is debatable. It would be nice if they did from the standpoint of immigration control.”
In a separate post, he wrote that “a far greater percentage of blacks than whites (are) in the range of IQs 75 or below, at which point, we are close to the typical boundary for mild mental retardation.”
On women, he advocated the forced use of contraception: “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.”
On welfare claimants, he wrote in a 2016 book review of Dr. Adam Perkins’ The Welfare Trait that “a large body of evidence, which Perkins reviews, supports the intuitive idea that habitual welfare claimants tend to be less conscientious and agreeable than the average person…Governments should try to adjust the generosity of welfare payments to the point where habitual claimants do not have greater fertility than those customarily employed…Perkins perhaps should also have argued for measures to boost the fertility of those with pro-social personalities.”
On Turkey, he wrote: “The EU already has enough of a problem with migration – the entire population of Turkey being granted freedom to move to any European nation is absolutely unthinkable. Giving Turkey EU membership would be a bit like drinking a bottle of bleach in an effort to cure your appendicitis.”
What they said
No. 10 refused to condemn or comment on Sabisky’s remarks, causing an equal amount of outrage.
When pressed by local media, Johnson’s deputy official spokesman said nothing other than: “The prime minister’s views are well publicized and well documented.”
Conservative MP Caroline Nokes, who chairs the ruling party’s Women and Equalities Committee, said: “Cannot believe No 10 has refused to comment on Andrew Sabisky. I don’t know him from a bar of soap, but don’t think we’d get on... must be no place in government for the views he’s expressed.”
“Andrew Sabisky’s presence in no.10 is a poor reflection on the Govt and there is no way to defend it. He needs to go. ‘Weirdos’ and ‘misfits’ are all very well, but please can they not gratuitously cause offence. I cannot be the only one uncomfortable with recent no.10 trends,” tweeted William Wragg, another Conservative MP.
Business Minister Kwasi Kwarteng, who is also one of the Conservative Party’s 22 black and minority ethnic (BME) MPs, said Tuesday: “His remarks were totally unacceptable. They were racist and they were offensive and he has left whatever post he had…[the government] should prevent racists from coming into No. 10.”
“It’s right that Andrew Sabisky is no longer working in government. He should never have been appointed in the first place,” said Ian Lavery, chair of the main opposition center-left Labour Party.
“Boris Johnson has serious questions to answer about how this appointment was made and whether he agrees with his vile views.”
“You can’t have people with these views operating at the heart of your government unless you agree with them. For Johnson to refuse to act and to condemn these views says as much about himself as it does about Sabisky,” said Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.
Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon said: “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.”
Controversy begets controversy
The saga cast a renewed light on Johnson’s chief advisor Dominic Cummings, who has dominated U.K. political media coverage as much as Johnson himself.
Cummings was the campaign director of the Vote Leave campaign during the 2016 Brexit referendum and came up with the slogan “Take Back Control.”
He has since been perceived to have wielded huge influence over the British government, not least through his publicly stated desire to completely overhaul how government is run.
On Jan. 2, he wrote on his personal blog that he wanted “weirdos and misfits with odd skills” to apply for jobs in No. 10.
“We want to hire an unusual set of people with different skills and backgrounds to work in Downing Street,” he wrote.
With this increased profile has come increased scrutiny, however.
“It does seem that when the call went out for misfits and weirdos, that’s exactly what Downing Street got,” said MP Caroline Nokes.
“And no comment from Downing Street, who could have chosen to distance themselves from his youthful comments at any point, but they chose not to do so,” she said.
“I’m disappointed that it took this long for either this young man to resign or for Downing Street to take action.”