Boris Johnson faces fresh claims of sexism after it emerged he once wrote there was an “appalling” growth of single mothers who were “uppity and irresponsible” for getting pregnant out of wedlock.
Writing in the Spectator in 1995, Johnson also lamented what he called “feckless” working class men and described the children of single mums as “ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate”, in a column unearthed by the Labour Party.
He also criticised an “appalling proliferation of single mothers” and mulled various causes of the “problem”.
Johnson, who was assistant editor of the Daily Telegraph at the time, claimed it was “outrageous” that married couples had to pay for benefit-reliant women and their “desire to procreate independently of men”.
Shami Chakrabarti, Labour’s shadow attorney general, said the piece reveals Boris Johnson’s contempt for women and families.
“Someone whose attitudes towards women are straight out of the dark ages is not fit to be prime minister of our country,” she said.
In the article, Johnson laid the “blame” not on “uppity and irresponsible women for becoming pregnant in the absence of a husband” as it was their “natural desire”, but said there was a limited “marriageable pool” of men willing to “take control of his woman”.
He added: “Something must be found, first, to restore women’s desire to be married.
“That means addressing the feebleness of the modern Briton, his reluctance or inability to take control of his woman and be head of a household.”
Johnson said the “modern British male is useless” and criticised working class men as “likely to be drunk, criminal, aimless, feckless and hopeless, and perhaps claiming to suffer from low self-esteem brought on by unemployment”.
He added that “500,000 women have chosen to marry the state” but that men were “responsible for a social breakdown which is costing us all, as taxpayers, £9.1bn per year, and which is producing a generation of ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate children who in theory will be paying for our pensions”.
The article, written in August 1995, also called for cuts to social security, arguing that “cuts in the safety net” that might leave women in “destitution on a Victorian scale” might act as a deterrent to unmarried women having children.
The comments echo sentiments shared by ex-Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, who in 2017 claimed unmarried men often grow into “dysfunctional” human beings and become “a problem” for society.
It is the latest in a long line of sexist comments attributed to the prime minister.
When he stood down from the editorship of the Spectator in 2005, Johnson advised his successor that the best way to handle the publisher’s suggestions for boosting circulation was to “pat her on the bottom and send her on her way”.
He was also accused of misogyny when it emerged he branded David Cameron a “girly swot” and after he called Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn a “big girl’s blouse” over his approach to Brexit in the Commons.
Chakrabarti said: “These unearthed comments further reveal Boris Johnson’s contempt for women and families, as he hypocritically attacks what he appallingly describes as ‘illegitimate’ children.
“From attacking single mothers working hard to raise their kids, to advocating sexual harassment in the workplace, his sexist comments are an affront to women everywhere. He has no right to attend or have any involvement in this event.”
Johnson has previously defended some of his other offensive comments as satire or not serious.
HuffPost UK has contacted the Conservative Party for comment.