Â COMMENT: Face covering isÂ a personal choice, not a political one
It's a typical Boris Johnson distraction technique '“Â turning up at the end of his driveway to offer the waiting reporters cups of tea, but saying nothing about his latest controversy as he does so.
So what do we get? Stories of Boris theÂ buffoon, all flyaway hair and rumpled clothingÂ refusing to comment on the matter and making jokes about being on '˜a humanitarian mission' to help the reporters.
And why were they there? Because Johnson has remained resolutely tight-lipped following the publication of a newspaper column in which he said women in burkas looked like '˜letterÂ boxes'Â or '˜bank robbers'.
He lobs the grenade and then steps back from the mess he's caused.
This is arguably the politics of the dog whistle. It feeds into the Islamophobia of the far-right while Johnson can stand back and claim that he meant no such thing.Â It is a tactic President Donald Trump has used to great effect in the United States.
Johnson is a politician who apparently aspires to lead our country as prime minister. AndÂ as a former foreign secretary you would think that he of allÂ MPs would be aware of the cultural senÂ sitivities around the issue ofÂ face-coverings.
But he has proved repeatedly that he is deaf to, or happy to ignore,Â these and similar sensitivities for his own ends. He surely knewÂ of thÂ e potential effect of his words and the ensuing row.
It does however go to a far wider issue. Like it or not, we are a multicultural society, and there are a lot of women who choose to wear the burka,Â niqab or hijab of their own volition.
It is an area littered with potential landmines when trying to discuss it without it descending into a slanging match or accusations of racism being thrown around.
As Basira Ajmal says in our story today: '˜Stop forcing and telling women what to wear and what toÂ Â not.'