Home Secretary Priti Patel has rejected claims the government doesn’t understand racial inequality as she recounted being called a “P**i” as a child in the playground.
Following a weekend of protests across the UK as part of the Black Lives Matter campaign, Ms Patel condemned a “lawless minority” who “regrettably turned to violence” during the demonstrations.
She denounced the “hooliganism” towards “courageous” police officers in central London.
In a statement to the House of Commons, the home secretary revealed 200 protests took place across the country, with more than 137,500 people in attendance and 135 arrests as of Monday morning.
She urged the public not to attend future protests amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic and claimed it was “not for mobs” to tear down statues, following the toppling of a monument to a slave trader in Bristol.
Ms Patel also told the Commons of her personal experiences of racism in the UK, warning that she would “not take lectures” from opposition MPs over the issue.
The home secretary made the remarks in response to Labour’s Florence Eshalomi, who asked Ms Patel whether she does “actually understand the anger and frustration felt by so many people” in the UK.
“Does the home secretary recognise that there is structural inequality, discrimination and racism in our country?,” Ms Eshalomi said.
She added: “Black lives matter and we need to see this government doing something about that.”
Ms Patel said the Labour MP had “effectively said that this government doesn’t understand racial inequality”.
She added: “Well, on that basis, it must have been a very different home secretary who as a child was frequently called a P**i in the playground.
“A very different home secretary who was racially abused in the streets or even advised to drop her surname and use her husband’s in order to advance her career.
“A different home secretary recently characterised in The Guardian newspaper as a fat cow with a ring through its nose – something that was not only racist but offensive, both culturally and religiously.”
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