The chairman of Britain's governing Conservative Party has asked former foreign secretary Boris Johnson to apologise for a newspaper column in which he wrote that burqa-wearing women looked like "letter boxes" and bank robbers.

Johnson, who quit the government last month in a dispute over Brexit, made the remarks in a Daily Telegraph article published Monday.

Johnson said he opposed banning burqas, but wrote that it was "absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes."

His column drew criticism from Muslim groups and fellow politicians.

Middle East Minister Alistair Burt criticised Johnson on Tuesday for comments he said "many people would find offensive."

Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis said in a tweet that he agreed with Burt and had asked Johnson to apologize.