THE majority of Britons do not think describing women in burkas as looking like "letter boxes" and "bank robbers" is racist but the divide is closer on whether Boris Johnson should apologise for doing so, according to a new poll.
The Sky Data survey revealed 60 percent did not believe Mr Johnson’s controversial comments in a newspaper earlier this week amounted to racism while 33 percent thought it did.
The outcry from Mr Johnson's comments might have indicated a majority supported an apology but the figures reveal 48 per cent believe he should not apologise, with 45 per cent in favour.
Prime Minister Theresa May and Conservative Party Chairman Brandon Lewis are among the senior Tories calling for Mr Johnson to apologise while Tory peer Lord Sheikh has said he should lose the party whip if he refused to make a public show of contrition.
The former London mayor made the remarks in an article opposing a ban on wearing burkas in public places after a law doing just that was recently passed in Denmark.
The Sky Data poll found almost 60 percent of participants would support enacting such a ban in the UK, with 26 percent opposed to legislation.
The survey also revealed a stark contrast by age on these issues with 18 to 34-year-olds saying Mr Johnson should apologise by 58 percent to 37 percent, while those aged 55 and older think he should not by 58 percent to 31 percent.
Londoners were most critical of the man they twice elected mayor, saying he should apologise by 51 percent to 41 percent.
The poll was conducted yesterday as Mr Johnson came under increasing pressure to back down.