Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch should apologise or be sacked, says former Government race adviser Lord Simon Woolley
“I hope that Samuel’s bravery in calling this out provokes a true leadership response,” said Lord Woolley. “Unless Kemi Badenoch offers a fulsome apology to Nadine White, her position appears to be untenable.”
In the leaked letter, Mr Kasumu called Ms Badenoch’s actions “concerning”.
“I believe the Ministerial Code was breached. However, more concerning than the act, was the lack of response internally,” he wrote.
“It was not ok or justifiable, but somehow nothing was said. I waited, and waited, for something from the senior leadership team to even point to an expected standard, but it did not materialise.”
Mr Kasumu also discussed the tension within Downing Street over race and said he considered resigning over fears that the Conservatives were pursuing a “politics steeped in division”.
He wrote: “It is well documented that black and Asian people are significantly less likely to vote Conservative, despite often having values that are aligned. The gains made under David Cameron in 2015 have been eroded in subsequent elections.
“Though we now have a coalition of voters to provide us with a much coveted majority, I fear for what may become of the party in the future by choosing to pursue a politics steeped in division.”
Mr Kasumu retracted his resignation on Thursday night, following talks with ministers and senior aides including the vaccines minister, Nadhim Zahawi.
Following the letter, Lord Woolley, who is the founder and director of Operation Black Vote, said the prime minister must act decisively to recapture the trust of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities and campaigners against racism.
“This is a critical moment for the government. A key black special adviser in No 10 Downing Street is deeply concerned about the politics of division,” he said.
“Samuel Kasumu is referring to the government’s strategy that pits poor white people against poor black people, for example, by rubbishing Black Lives Matter and arguing that class in the northern regions, a code for white working class, is a greater inequality than racism”.
He added that what Mr Kasumu and others want is a government to acknowledge and deal with “the deep-seated racial inequalities that have been laid bare by Covid-19, such as jobs, health and housing.”
No 10 initially defended Badenoch over her HuffPost response, but the BBC reported that the Cabinet Office was now understood to be looking into whether she had broken the ministerial code.
On Friday afternoon the prime minister’s spokesperson denied that claim, saying: “There is no Cabinet Office investigation ongoing. The prime minister fully supports the important work the minister is doing to improve uptake of the vaccine amongst ethnic minority communities.”
A Downing Street spokesperson said of Kasumu: “It would not be appropriate to comment on individual staff members. This government is committed to inclusion and bringing communities together, and is the most ethnically diverse in this country’s history. Last year we established a commission on race and ethnic disparities to examine and tackle inequality and discrimination wherever it is found. It is due to report shortly.”