Matt Hancock has been taken to task over the Tory cabinet team not featuring a single black MP in its ranks.
On Sophy Ridge’s Ridge on Sunday programme, she asked the Health Secretary how many black people are in the cabinet.
After initially asking Ridge to repeat the question, Hancock responded:
Um… the… well there’s a whole series of people from a black and minority ethnic background.
He then listed Rishi Sunak MP and Priti Patel – who aren’t black – before Ridge pressed again:
I’m talking about black people specifically because I do think it’s quite important not to lump everyone from non-white backgrounds together. Obviously, Asian people face prejudice too but it might be different prejudice faced by black people.
Hancock then responded:
The two cabinets that I’ve sat in with Boris Johnson as Prime Minister are the two most diverse cabinets I’ve ever sat in… well I think that Boris Johnson has got a very good record on this and it brings people in and listens to a diversity of views. It’s the diversity of thought that’s the really important thing when you’re taking those big decision around the cabinet table.
Pulling up Hancock on his “diversity of thought” point, Ridge asked the follow-up question:
So are you saying then that people from black backgrounds shouldn’t really worry that there isn’t a single person from a black background at the current cabinet table because you have ‘diversity of thought’?
Hancock disagreed and claimed that the cabinets that “Boris Johnson leads are some of the most diverse in the history of this country”.
The response from Hancock drew criticism on social media, with many people saying the lack of diversity in the Tory cabinet for black voices isn’t good enough:
Where was Boris Johnson’s “diversity of thought” when he referred to black people in 2002 as “piccaninnies” and as having “watermelon smiles”?