PM Johnson says statue of colonialist Rhodes should not be pulled down

FILE PHOTO - A statue of Cecil Rhodes, a controversial historical figure, is seen outside Oriel College, following demonstrations for its removal in the aftermath of protests against the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis, in Oxford, Britain, June 18, 2020. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday that a statue of 19th century colonialist Cecil Rhodes should not be pulled down from an Oxford University college because history should not be edited.

Oriel College, Oxford, said last month it wanted to remove a statue of Rhodes after a campaign by those who argue the statue glorifies racism and is an insult to black students.

Johnson told the Evening Standard newspaper he did not want to see the statue pulled down.

It would, he said, be like “trying to bowdlerise or edit our history ... like some politician sneakily trying to change his Wikipedia entry,” the Standard reported.

“I’m pro-heritage, I’m pro-history, and I’m in favour of people understanding our past with all its imperfections,” he said.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Alistair Smout