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Johnson makes whisky gaffe on Sikh temple visit

Updated May 18, 2017 07:58am

LONDON: Britain’s gaffe-prone Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson landed himself in trouble on Wednesday when he told visitors to a Sikh temple he always took `clinky’, or Johnnie Walker, to India when he visited relatives.

Johnson, who was then told that alcohol was against the Sikh religion, made his comments when speaking about whisky exports to India during an address at a gurdwara in Bristol.

Wearing an orange turban, Boris Johnson said whisky exports would get a boost if Britain and India could strike a trade deal. “Whenever we go to India ... we have to bring `clinky’ in our luggage. We have to bring Johnnie Walker. We have to bring whisky because as you may know there is a duty of 150 per cent in India on imports of Scotch whisky,” he said. “So we have to bring it in duty-free for our relatives. But imagine what we could do if there was a free trade deal with India,” he said, according to a video published online by the Bristol Post newspaper.

But one worshipper, speaking during a subsequent question and answer session with Mr Johnson, said she would be against increasing whisky exports to India because “it’s against our religion”. Johnson apologised and said: “I understand your point of view.”

Britain’s Sikh Federation also voiced outrage. “No politician in his right mind would speak in a gurdwara about a trade deal involving alcohol,” the foundation’s head Bhai Narinderjit Singh said.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2017