UK PM’s adviser quits amid row over race report

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street in London, Britain

A senior adviser to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will resign amid the intense debate over Downing Street’s controversial report on racial disparities in Britain, local media reported.

Samuel Kasumu, Johnson’s special adviser for civil society and communities, will leave his role in May and had informed colleagues of his decision on Wednesday, sources confirmed to British media on Thursday.

News of his departure emerged the day after the government released a report which concluded that there was no evidence of institutional racism in Britain.

“The report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities faced heavy criticism, with claims that it is culturally deaf, out of step with public opinion, and steeped in denial,” the Evening Standard newspaper reported.

Kasumu is expected to stay in post until May to continue work on improving vaccine uptake in minority groups, said the London-based newspaper.

But a Downing Street spokesperson said Kasumu’s departure had been planning “for several months” and was not linked to the report by the government’s Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities.

“Any suggestion that this decision has been made this week or that this is linked to the (commission’s) report is completely inaccurate,” the spokesperson added.

Kasumu, who has not commented on the race report yet, has reportedly been unhappy with the government’s stance on racial issues.

He had previously handed in a resignation letter in February, accusing the Conservatives of a “politics steeped in division”.

The government’s race report, issued Wednesday, said that social class and family structure, rather than race, had a bigger impact on how people’s lives turned out.

It claimed the UK acts as “a model” for other white-majority countries when it comes to racial equality in education and the workplace.

The study was set up after Black Lives Matter protests last year.

A section of the report that claimed there was a new story to be told about the “slave period”, which was not just about “profit and suffering”, has been criticised for “glorifying” the slave trade.

Labour’s Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary Marsha de Cordova on Thursday called the report “divisive”, adding it was “no wonder” the government was “losing the expertise from their team”.

“To have your most senior advisor on ethnic minorities quit as you publish a so-called landmark report on race in the UK is telling of how far removed the Tories are from the everyday lived experiences of Black, Asian and ethnic minority people,” she added.

Johnson said on Thursday the UK government is not going to agree with “absolutely everything” in the race report, but “it has some original and stimulating work in it that I think people need to read and to consider”.

“There are very serious issues that our society faces to do with racism that we need to address.

“We’ve got to do more to fix it, we need to understand the severity of the problem, and we’re going to be looking at all the ideas that they have put forward,” he added.

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