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Boris Johnson's Most Senior Black Adviser Set To Quit As Ministers Defend Landmark Race Report

The Downing Street adviser will leave his role in May

3 min read

Samuel Kasumu's plans to quit the government in May were announced as ministers sought to defend a controversial report into racial disparities.

The special adviser for civil society and communities reportedly told colleagues of his plans to quit just hours before the government released a landmark race report which concluded there was no evidence of "institutional" racism in the UK.

His resignation, reported by Politico, came as ministers battled to defend the report from accusations it had "glorified" the slave trade.

But Downing Street sources strongly disputed any link between his decision at the publication of the report, pointing to his decision to remain working on the vaccination programme until May.

It comes after the BBC reported that Kasumu had written to the Prime Minister in February to offer his resignation, saying the Conservative Party were pursuing "a politics stepped in division", before withdrawing his decision after conservations with vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi.

But a source told Politico that Kasumu felt "physically and mentally exhausted" following his work on the Windrush scandal review, the race review and the vaccine campaign.

His resignation comes as the government battles to defend the report which have been heavily criticised by racial equality activists, including for a comment which called for a "new story" about slavery to be taught in schools.Speaking on Thursday, universities minister Gillian Keegain, said: "It doesn't glorify the slave trade. It is an independent report and obviously we have the report as of 11am yesterday and we will be looking at it.

"It did recognise the inhumanity of slavery, it did make many recommendations about how we educate and teach young people about slavery."

She added: "They look at disparities, they look at equality. They do say there is racism. There is a lot of criticism in the report, there are a lot of recommendations in the report as well...

"The report has recognised all of these things, so I think it is a very detailed report. The ten commissioners have spent a lot of time, a lot of effort, spoken to thousands of people, and I think the minimum we can do is take the report seriously, read it, and look at the recommendations and respond to it."

Meanwhile, asked about Kasumu's resignation, she said she "didn't know who he was" before adding his decision was a personal matter.

Speaking on Thursday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said while the government would not agree with "absolutely everything" in the report, they would respond in due course.

"Look, this is a very interesting piece of work," he said.

"I don't say the Government is going to agree with absolutely everything in it, 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, and we'll be making our response."

He added: "If you look at it, they have come forward with about 24 interesting ideas to promote equality and to promote equality of opportunity, to give people of all communities, all races, all backgrounds in this country, more opportunity," he told reporters during a visit to Middlesbrough.

"But also to understand the true nature of the barriers and the discrimination that they unquestionably feel.

"There are some interesting things in it, I'm not going to say we agree with every word, but we're going to be responding in due course."

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