COMMENTS about the burka by Ukip's new Senedd leader Gareth Bennett and former foreign secretary Boris Johnson have been branded "racist" and "dangerously irresponsible" by first minister Carwyn Jones.

Mr Bennett was elected as the new leader of Ukip's five-strong Assembly group last week. And, in an interview with ITV Wales at the weekend he described women wearing traditional Islamic face coverings as "apparitions of pre-medieval culture".

This came just days after former foreign secretary Boris Johnson came under fire for comparing women wearing burkas or niqabs to "letter boxes" and "bank robbers".

First minister Carwyn Jones slammed both Mr Bennett and Mr Johnson, accusing them of making the comments "solely to raise their own profile, to gain political advantage".

"But, despite their purely selfish motivations, their language has a broader, dangerous impact – it results in Muslim women being abused in the street," he said.

"It legitimises xenophobic conversation and, ultimately, leads to further division and mistrust. This benefits nobody except Bennett and Johnson.

“The language they are using is dangerously irresponsible. It is racist. This is not how elected politicians in positions of responsibility should behave.

"The Welsh Government will not be silent in the face of these grim provocations. We will redouble our efforts to create cohesive communities, to help people feel safe, and not just to tolerate - but to celebrate diversity.”

But Mr Bennett called Mr Jones' criticisms "outrageous", saying there is "a dangerous ideology behind the wearing of these garments".

"Recent opinion polls show that a majority of British people actually aren’t comfortable with the burka and niqab being worn, and I won’t be closed down by minority groups or a hypocritical left seeking their own political gain by trying to stifle free speech,” he said.

Blaenau Gwent AM Alun Davies has also weighed in on the debate, saying Ukip had "disfigured" Welsh politics since the party's first AMs were elected in 2016.

Mr Davies, who last week announced he would stand to replace Mr Jones as the new leader of Welsh Labour and first minister called on fellow AMs of all parties to unite in opposing Ukip, saying: "It’s time to take them on and to expose them as a bunch of lamentable chancers with little talent and no commitment to their roles and their responsibilities."