‘Regrettable’ Left hijacked concerns about racial justice, says Business Secretary

Kwasi Kwarteng grilled by Lindsay Hoyle for Commons' conduct

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Britain’s first black business ­secretary has defended a groundbreaking report confirming Britain is not a racist country but a beacon to the world on dealing with racial diversity. Labour and other Left-wing activists rounded on last week’s report by the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities. Chaired by ­education consultant Tony Sewell, they claimed it glorified slavery and said racism in society or institutions does not exist. 

In a tweet, senior Labour MP Clive Lewis ­compared the commission to the Ku Klux Klan despite 11 out of 12 ­members being from ethnic minority groups.

Mr Kwarteng, a historian and author of two books on the British Empire, told the Sunday Express: “This issue has been massively hijacked by elements of the Left. When you look at BLM, you look at Extinction Rebellion, a lot of it is the same sort of thing – creating disorder.

“I am also a historian, so of course I am fascinated by our ­history and the British Empire. But it is too crude to just say it was all terrible or all good.

“It was an historic phenomenon over many centuries. The way in which ­elements of the Left have hijacked legitimate concerns about racial justice and social justice is deeply regrettable.”

The commission says criticism of the report has “tipped into misrepresentation”, which risks undermining the ­purpose of understanding and addressing the causes of inequality and any ­positive work that results from it. It added that it had said ­“racism is real and we must do more to tackle it” and the accusations that it put a positive spin on slavery was “as absurd as it is offensive”.

Home Secretary Priti Patel, whose family were among Asians who fled Uganda to seek refuge in the UK, has also been under attack for insisting police take a tough line on enforcing Covid-19 restrictions on protests. Mr Kwarteng said: “I’m squarely behind what Priti Patel is doing. The police have a difficult job and have my support.”

He also reiterated his disquiet at attempts by Labour councils and Left-wing protesters to pull down statues of slave traders. He said: “By all means have a debate but violent, disorderly and unlawful behaviour is completely unacceptable.”

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