Boris Johnson makes whisky gaffe on United Kingdom gurdwara visit

Frederick Owens
May 19, 2017

It came after the Foreign Secretary was rounded on by a woman at a Sikh temple in Bristol for attempting to use alcohol as an example of the benefits of a trade deal between the United Kingdom and India during a Conservative Party visit.

His campaign speech on behalf of British Prime Minister Theresa May was immediately shot down by an irate Sikh woman, who chastised him for being ignorant about the religion's values, according to a BBC reporter.

Wearing an orange turban, Johnson said whisky exports would get a boost if Britain and India could strike a trade deal.

The Conservatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Johnson's remarks in Bristol. "You are standing in a Sikh [temple] talking about alcohol, which is absolutely not right".

The foreign secretary has spoken of his hopes for increasing British whisky exports to India before. "We have to bring Johnnie Walker, we have to bring whisky".

"How dare you talk about alcohol in a Sikh temple", she said.

Punjabi Sikhs, however, have a reputation of being avid drinkers and alcoholism is rife in many Sikh families, including resultant domestic violence cases.

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"The core of our Sikhism is that alcohol should not be something that our people should be having".

"He pointed out that in India billions of litres of whiskey are consumed every year but there is a 120 per cent (customs duty) on imports of scotch whiskey and wouldn't it be great if we could have free trade. I'm a practising Sikh and to me that is completely outrageous", she said, adding: "It's causing a lot of problems at the moment".

Narinderjit Singh, General Secretary of the Sikh Federation, said that "no politician in his right mind" would speak in a gurdwara about a trade deal involving alcohol, the newspaper reported.

"In front of the Gurdwara to talk about and promote alcohol is offensive, he not have been stood there talking about that, he should have known that". "Imagine what we could do with a trade deal with India, which there will be, because then the tariffs would go", The Guardian quotes Borris Johnson to have said at the Gurdwara.

"When I heard that on the news, I thought "no way am I going to vote Tory" because I don't want alcohol".

"One lady expressed her views based on a personal situation but the other 30 attendees warmly welcomed his remarks".

The Akal Takht Sandesh, a religious code of conduct, states that Sikhs "must not take hemp (cannabis), opium, liquor, tobacco, in short any intoxicant".

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