When the Prime Minister’s spokesman said this morning that ‘we will look at whether there are lessons that we can learn from’ the disappearance of Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed, what he probably didn’t mean was that the Home Office should consider banning all things that can be worn as disguises. Sir Gerald Howarth clearly did, telling the Commons this afternoon that the Home Secretary should ban the burka partly because it had enabled this suspect to disappear. He said:
‘Can I commend my right honourable friend’s approach and can I urge her to go further in her robustness, to scrap the Labour-introduced Human Rights Act and while she’s at it, can she follow the advice of our right honourable friend, the member for Rushcliffe, and have the burka banned in this country because it is alien to our culture, and has enabled this man to abscond.’
May used her answer mainly to remind the House that the Conservatives would go into the 2015 election promising to scrap the Human Rights Act, which Chris Grayling looked very happy about as he sat next to her. But she also insisted that she believed it was the right of a woman to decide how to dress.
What she didn’t say, because she was being polite, although there was a smile on her face as she got up, was that Howarth was trying to suggest that because the burka had been used as a disguise, it should be banned. Should fancy dress costumes also be regulated by the same reasoning? Or beards, which according to this photo gallery are pretty handy if you’re on the run? Mind you, Rod Liddle found the burka did the opposite for him: his Spectator column this week details what happened when he donned one in Canterbury.