Former British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson returned from his summer vacation to face criticism and support for his comments on the burkas, amid deepening divisions in the ruling British Conservative Party on Sunday.
Johnson, seen as the biggest threat to the fight by Prime Minister Theresa May, has become a lightning rod of discontent within the party after a column in which he said that Muslim women wearing burkas look like mailboxes or bank robbers.
The comments came in a piece that argues against the ban on the full Islamic veil, but have been criticized as Islamophobes. Others saw the comments as a colorful rhetoric that touches the hearts and minds of many Britons.
May has scolded Johnson, provoking anger among those of his followers who see him as the focal point for resistance to his proposed Brexit "business-friendly" plan. The party has also initiated an investigation into his comments.
Under the headline "Boris Unleashes Cabinet War," the Sunday Times said that four unnamed ministers were dismayed by May's handling of the situation.
"They have managed to design a total disaster," said one minister. "Trying to silence Boris is stupid, especially when most people agree with him."
Johnson spent Sunday at his residence in the small town of Thame, about 80 kilometers northwest of London, and emerged only to bring tea cups to reporters. When asked if he regretted his comments, he declined to comment.
Johnson resigned from the cabinet last month in protest of the May Brexit plan, setting himself up as a talisman for the many conservatives who want a more radical departure from the European Union.
Meanwhile, May has struggled to keep her cabinet on Brexit united and faces a few months of trial in which she hopes to secure an agreement to leave the EU, face the unhappy bases of the party and win a crucial vote in parliament.
Johnson's bursa comments were defended, among others, by Donald Trump's former political strategist, Steve Bannon, who told the Sunday Times that his general message had been lost due to a "disposable line."
Bannon has previously asked Johnson to challenge May's leadership.
But a conservative member of the upper house of parliament and former government adviser to the polls, Andrew Cooper, accused Johnson of "moral vacuum" and populism over the comments.
"The rot of Boris Johnson goes beyond his occasional racism and his equally informal courtship of fascism, he will literally defend anything to play before the crowd of the moment," Cooper said on Twitter.
Johnson, who made it clear that he does not intend to apologize, returned to Britain on Saturday. He is expected to break his silence in his regular column, which will be published by the Telegraph newspaper late on Sunday.