Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to establish a cross-government commission to examine “all aspects” of racial inequality in Britain.
He acknowledged that Britain had much more to do to deal with the issue and promised the commission on race and ethnic disparities would look at “all aspects of inequality – in employment, in health outcomes, in academic and all other walks of life”.
Mr Johnson told broadcasters: “What I really want to do as Prime Minister is change the narrative so we stop the sense of victimisation and discrimination.
“We stamp out racism and we start to have a real sense of expectation of success. That’s where I want to get to but it won’t be easy.”
The announcement follows two weeks of protest across the country by the Black Lives Matter movement following the killing in the US of George Floyd who died as a white police office knelt on his neck.
However the announcement, which included little detail, was sharply criticised by opposition parties.
For Labour, shadow equalities secretary Marsha de Cordova said: “We are in the midst of a global health pandemic that has sharply exposed deep structural inequalities which have long since needed urgently addressing.
“That the Prime Minister now says he wants to ‘change the narrative… so we stop the sense of victimisation and discrimination’ is condescending and designed to let himself and his Government off the hook.”
Liberal Democrat equalities spokeswoman Christine Jardine said the commission was a “welcome first step” but said the Government must go further.
The Telegraph reported that the new commission will report directly to Mr Johnson and also be overseen by Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch.
The paper said that an independent chairman or woman would be appointed to oversee the body which would comprised of people “with a mix of ethnic, social and professional backgrounds”.
Access to lots of FREE tools to help stabilise your business and start making up for lost time is just one newsletter sign up away. As part of our #IAmOpen community to help and support small businesses owners like you, you will get a regular newsletter from our journalists plus we’ll let you know how you can:
- get exclusive access to business webinars
- have a single-page website landing page made
- montage video created
- book an online marketing heath check report and
- bag discounted advertising rates just made for our mates.
What’s more, it’s all FREE. So sign up here right now. It’s very least we can do to back you, support you and just say THANK YOU.
The Prime Minister also used his article in the newspaper to defend the statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square, which some protesters want pulled down, and to warn against attempts to “photoshop” Britain’s cultural landscape.
He lauded Churchill as “one of the country’s greatest ever leaders”, saying it was the “height of lunacy” to accuse him of racism.
“I will resist with every breath in my body any attempt to remove that statue from Parliament Square, and the sooner his protective shielding comes off the better,” he wrote.
He went on: “It is not just that it is wrong to destroy public property by violence. I am also extremely dubious about the growing campaign to edit or photoshop the entire cultural landscape.”
Mr Johnson also condemned the counter protesters who clashed with police in London on Saturday as “far-right thugs and bovver boys”.
“It was right that a good number should have been arrested. They were violent. They were aggressive towards the police. They were patently racist.
“There is nothing that can excuse their behaviour,” he said.