Priti Patel accuses Keir Starmer of ‘failing to depart from divisive, racist politics’

Priti Patel in the House of Commons. Photograph: Parliament TV.

Priti Patel in the House of Commons. Photograph: Parliament TV. - Credit: Archant

Home secretary Priti Patel has told MPs that she believes Labour leader Keir Starmer is continuing with 'divisive, hateful, racist' politics.

She was answering a question in the House of Commons from a Tory MP what was described as abuse from the 'left'.

The Brexiteer responded by claiming that Sir Keir Starmer had failed to depart from the politics of Jeremy Corbyn which she claimed was 'divisive, hateful' and 'racist'.

Imran Ahmad Khan, the Tory MP for Wakefield, said: 'The home secretary and I, along with other Conservative colleagues have been subject to torrents of hateful prejudice and frankly racist abuse from the Left's legions outside, as well as in the case of my right honourable friend, sadly from sources on the benches opposite, as we refuse to conform to their prejudices.

'Does the home secretary agree with me that the leader of the opposition should condemn all these attacks and support the full weight of the law being applied equally to everyone no matter how righteous they believe their views are?'

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Patel replied: 'He is absolutely right, we should be calling out collectively racist and intolerant behaviour and I am saddened that the leader of the opposition (Sir Keir Starmer) has effectively failed to depart from the divisive, hateful, racist politics of its former leader.'

The minister also condemned a letter she received from Labour black and minority ethnic MPs accusing her of 'gaslighting' black people's experience of racism as 'pathetic'.

Dr Luke Evans, another Conservative MP, later asked: 'How does (she) respond to the accusations from some on the benches opposite about her gas lighting when she shares her own personal experiences of racism?'

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Patel told MPs: 'As I've already said, I'm not even going to dignify that pathetic letter with a response and I think it's fair to say that sadly too many people are just willing to causally dismiss the contribution of others, others from different ethnic minority backgrounds who do not necessarily confront or conform to their preconceived ideas or views or stereotype or expectation of how ethnic minorities should think.

'This in itself is racist.

'As I said last week and as I have said every single day, I will not be silenced by those that choose and want to continue to silence me and it is right that in order to combat the real inequalities in our society, that we all come together.

'This isn't about point scoring and behaving in really quite a dreadful and insensitive and racist and intolerant way.

'We owe it to many groups across our country and across society to come together to find solutions to the actual inequalities that they face.'

The home secretary - who played a key role in the Vote Leave campaign - is currently proposing immigration reforms in the House of Commons which would end freedom of movement after Brexit and introduce a points-based system, something which critics claim is scapegoating immigrants for the problems the country faces.

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