Boris Johnson in Scotch blunder at Sikh temple

18th May, 2017 by Lucy Shaw

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson has been reprimanded by Sikh worshippers after speaking about tax on Scotch in India while visiting a Sikh temple in Bristol.

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson offended worshippers by talking about alcohol at a recent visit to a Sikh temple in Bristol

As reported by The Telegraph, Johnson’s comments on alcohol in a place of worship weren’t well received, with Balbir Kaur exclaiming, “How dare you talk about alcohol in a Sikh temple.”

According to The Telegraph, Johnson said: “One of the consequences of having so many Sikh relatives is that whenever we go to India, to Mumbai or to Delhi, we have to bring ‘clinkie’ in our luggage.

“We have to bring Johnny Walker or we have to bring whisky because as you know there is a duty of 150% in India on Scotch whisky.

“Imagine what we could do if there was a free trade deal with India – which there will be. You are talking hundreds of millions of pounds of new exports and more exports is great for a fantastic export city like Bristol.”

Kaur took umbrage at Johnson’s comments, which she described as “disrespectful”. “I wouldn’t be wanting to put somebody in power who wants to put more alcohol in India, which is causing lots of problems at the moment. I am a practicing Sikh and to me that is absolutely outrageous,” she said.

Johnson, who was visiting the temple in St George as part of the 2017 General Election campaign, apologised to the worshippers for having caused offence.

A spokesperson for Johnson said: “He was simply making the point that a free trade deal with India could be huge for both sides pointing out that in India billions of litres of whiskey are consumed every year.”

Local website Fishponds Voice tweeted: “I think it’s fair to say Boris Johnson got a mixed reception from Sikhs in St George today”. 

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