FORMER Blackburn MP Jack Straw has condemned Tory politician Boris Johnson’s ‘insulting and inflammatory language’ over Muslim women wearing the burka.

The former Labour cabinet minister himself caused a row when he revealed in his Lancashire Telegraph column in 2006 that he asked female constituents wearing the Islamic veil to lift them when attending his surgery.

The article said wearing the full veil could be seen as ‘a visible statement of separation and difference’ and made positive relations between communities more difficult.

Yesterday Mr Straw strongly criticised fellow former Foreign Secretary MP Johnson’s comments in a national newspaper column that the burka was ‘oppressive’ and that women wearing the veil looked ‘like a bank robber’ or ‘like letterboxes’

He told the Lancashire Telegraph: “There is nothing wrong with having debate about this issue in a sensible and thoughtful way but that is a million miles from the insulting and inflammatory language Mr Johnson used.”

Pendle Tory MP Andrew Stephenson said: “I think Boris’s language was inappropriate and he should apologise.

"I don’t think he should be expelled from the party but I think he raised this issue in an insensitive way.”

Ribble Valley Conservative MP Nigel Evans said: “This is a highly emotive issue and I think Boris could have moderated his language but this is Boris being Boris.

“He is right to say we should not ban the burka as other European countries have. No woman should be told what to wear.

"We need to conduct this important debate in a calmer, less emotionally-charged way.”

Hyndburn Labour MP Graham Jones said: “People discuss these issues and it is right to do so. I think very few people would discuss this in the way Boris Johnson did. Describing people as looking like letterboxes contributes nothing to that discussion other than calling people names.”

Burnley Labour MP Julie Cooper said: “I am appalled by Boris Johnson’s Islamophobic outburst. He is like a spoilt child using naughty behaviour to get the attention he craves. If the Conservative Party is to have any credibility at all it must cast out this very unfunny comedian.”

Rossendale and Darwen Tory MP Jake Berry declined to comment.

Blackburn Labour MP Kate Hollern was uncontactable on holiday,.