Priti Patel accused of 'using her identity' to silence a black MP after giving passionate speech on racism

Speaking in the Commons yesterday, Home Secretary Priti Patel responded to a comment from Labour MP Florence Eshalomi.

She asked:

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?

Patel replied that she was often called a racial slur in the playground at school, and that she was "really saddened" by the suggestion that ministers didn’t understand racial inequality, and that she would not "take lectures" from the opposition on this topic.

She added:

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 pre-conceived views or ideologies about how ethnic minorities should behave or think.

This, in my view, is racist in itself.

Labour MP Nadia Whittome tweeted immediately after the exchange, saying that she "felt sick", and accusing Patel of "using her identity as an Asian person" to silence a black person.

Given the context of the Black Lives Matter protest, many people agreed, including Eshalomi herself.

On Sunday, Matt Hancock was criticised for his response to the question of how many black ministers were in his cabinet. Answer: zero.

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