VOTERS have backed Boris Johnson over his burka jibe - as Tory MPs told the Prime Minister to expect "World War Three" if he's suspended from the party.

Furious MPs and grassroots Tories turned on Theresa May and demanded she call off an inquiry into the former foreign secretary after he likened women wearing the burka to 'bank robbers' and 'letterboxes'.

A ComRes poll for the Sunday Express found the majority of Britons don't think Mr Johnson should be punished for the remarks made in a newspaper column.

It found 60 per cent of people believe free speech is "under threat."

Mr Johnson is yet to respond to the furore sparked by the article, where he branded the face-covering veils "ridiculous" and "oppressive".

He made no comment as he returned home from a holiday in Italy on Saturday.

The former Mayor of London looked relaxed as he posed for a selfie with a young woman at Gatwick Airport.

At least five cabinet ministers have backed Mr Johnson and criticised their own party leadership.

One told the Sun on Sunday: "I’ve never seen such a cack-handed mess.

"To start infighting like this when Labour are on the ropes over anti-semitism is sheer lunacy.

"Boris’s article wasn’t that bad, anyway. A lot of people have said worse and most of the party agrees with him."

Another added: "It’s been a cock up from start to finish."

Mrs May's inner circle fear disgruntled MPs will submit letters to the Commons 1922 committee, demanding a vote of no confidence in the prime minister.

She said Mr Johnson should apologise for the comments which "obviously offended".

One minister said: “This investigation has p***ed off too many of us – not only in the Cabinet but on the back benches.

“Theresa needs to grasp the nettle and call off this investigation. No good will come of it.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg suggested the attacks on Mr Johnson's were a reflection of "envy" felt towards him because of "his many successes, popularity with voters and charisma".

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said: “If Boris is suspended it will be open warfare in the Conservative Party.

“If Theresa May dares engineer a leadership contest while Boris is suspended it will be World War Three.”

Meanwhile Mr Johnson won support from Steve Bannon, President Trump's former strategist.

He told the Sunday Times he "has nothing to apologise for" and does not need to ape Trump to become a “great prime minister”.

However the Muslim Council of Britain claimed Tory MPs' support for Mr Johnson has "shone a light on the underbelly of Islamophobia" within the party.

Harun Khan, MCB secretary general, said the comments had a "real and worrying" impact on the Muslim community.

He also said the MCB received Islamophobic hate mail off the back of the furore, some describing Muslims as "barbarians".

Further condemnation came from Andrew Cooper, David Cameron's former Downing Street aide, who pulled no punches with his assessment of Mr Johnson.

In a Twitter post, he wrote: "The rottenness of Boris Johnson goes deeper even than his casual racism and his equally casual courting of fascism.

"He will advocate literally anything to play to the crowd of the moment. His career is a saga of moral emptiness and lies; pathetic, weak and needy; the opposite of strong."