Labour MP accuses Priti Patel of ‘silencing’ BAME colleague over racism claims

Home secretary Priti Patel and Labour MP Florence Eshalomi (R) during a debate in the Commons; Parli

Home secretary Priti Patel and Labour MP Florence Eshalomi (R) during a debate in the Commons; ParliamentLive - Credit: Archant

A Labour politician has accused Priti Patel of using her Asian heritage to 'silence' a BAME colleague over racism claims.

Nadia Whittome said she was 'sickened' by the home secretary's response to questions by Labour MP Florence Eshalomi over what the government was doing to tackle racial inequality in the UK.

Eshalomi asked the cabinet minister is she understood the 'anger and frustration felt by so many people' packing London streets as part of the Black Lives Matter movement.

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Relying to Eshalomi, Patel said: 'When it comes to racism, sexism, tolerance for social justice, I will not take lectures from the other side of the House.'

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She added: 'I'm really saddened the honourable lady has effectively said this government doesn't understand racial inequality.

'I have already said repeatedly there is no place for racism in our country or in society, and sadly too many people are too willing, too casual to dismiss the contributions of those who don't necessarily conform to preconceived views or ideologies about how ethnic minorities should behave or think.

Patel went on to talk about being bullied for her Pakistani background as a child and suggestions she change her last name in order to advance her career.

Replying to home secretary's response, Whittome tweeted: 'Sitting opposite @pritipatel as she uses her identity as an Asian person to silence @FloEshalomi as a black person, because Flo very reasonably questions this government's policies that institutionally discriminate against black AND Asian people.

'I feel sick.'

During the Commons debate, Eshalomi said: 'Does the home secretary actually understand the anger and frustration felt by so many people? Does the home secretary recognise that this protest has been led by young people?

'Does the home secretary recognise that there is structural inequality, discrimination and racism in our country? Does the home secretary recognise that people want to see action from this government?

'My son turned three yesterday, I do not want to have to wait until he's a teenager before we see changes in this country – will this government and the home secretary act now?'

Relying to Whittome, Eshalomi said the government 'seriously don't get it' when it came racial inequality in the UK.

'They just don't get it and the fact she has to read examples is a bit (shrugging emoji) maybe she thinks that I've never been on the receiving end of racism. We need justice for the victims and we won't stop until this government listens and acts #BlackLives Matter,' she said on Twitter.

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