Boris Johnson was caught in a growing storm today over a No 10 adviser accused of “repugnant” views on race, pregnancies and eugenics.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman refused to criticise or defend the controversial views attributed to Andrew Sabisky, and there were no answers from No 10 when journalists asked if the self-styled “super-forecaster” had been recruited by No 10, what his status was in Whitehall, and how he was selected.
Mr Sabisky was reportedly drafted in to No 10 after the Prime Minister’s chief adviser Mr Cummings issued an appeal via his blog for “misfits and weirdos” to help shake up Whitehall.
Mr Sabisky is reportedly the author of a series of comments that caused shock among critics, including:
- Advocating the use of a purported cognitive enhancer despite it being said to be fatal to some users, on the grounds that it was “probably worth a dead kid once a year”.
- Arguing for compulsory contraception for some young women to prevent an underclass. He wrote on Mr Cummings’s own website in 2014: “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.”
- Highlighting a survey in America that claimed black people had a lower average IQ than white Americans.
Downing Street repeatedly refused to say whether Mr Johnson agreed or disagreed with the views expressed.
A Number 10 spokesman said: “I’m not going to be commenting on individual appointments.”
Geneticist Dr Adam Rutherford wrote on Twitter: “Like Cummings, he appears to be bewitched by science, without having made the effort to understand the areas he is invoking, nor it’s history.”
He said the “moral repugnance” of the remarks was “overwhelming”, adding: “This resembles the marshalling of misunderstood or specious science into a political ideology.
"The history here is important, because this process is exactly what happened at the birth of scientific racism and the birth of eugenics.”
The No 10 spokesman batted away questions about the appointment with the response: “I’m not going to be commenting on individual appointments.”
Asked whether Mr Johnson agreed with Mr Sabisky’s comments on eugenics or the IQ of black people, the spokesman said: “The Prime Minister’s views on a range of subjects are well publicised and documented.”
Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery said: “It is disgusting that not only has Number 10 failed to condemn Andrew Sabisky’s appalling comments, but also seems to have endorsed the idea that white people are more intelligent than black people.
“Boris Johnson should have the backbone to make a statement in his own words on why he has made this appointment, whether he stands by it, and his own views on the subject of eugenics.”
Yesterday Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tried to distance the Government from Mr Sabisky, telling the BBC: “I don’t know the individual but they are particularly not views that I or the Government shares in any way, shape or form.”
Asked if he was speaking on behalf of the Government, No 10 was unclear, saying he was interviewed as Transport Secretary.
Reports said some of the 80 Whitehall special advisers were prepared to boycott meetings if Mr Sabisky was present and refuse to reply to his emails.
More highly controversial comments were surfacing today. Sky News unearthed a tweet from Mr Sabisky’s account that said MPs should pay attention to the “debate” around “very real racial differences in intelligence” when considering immigration controls.
In an online exchange in 2015, Mr Sabisky appeared to joke about adulterous women being stoned to death.
“If the penalty for shagging Romeo is getting stoned to death, and that penalty is enforced with at least some non-zero frequency, I wouldn’t necessarily expect Juliet to stray very often, no matter how unappealing Paris is,” he wrote.