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David Lammy says Boris Johnson’s latest racism review ‘written on the back of a fag packet to assuage Black Lives Matters’

The Shadow Justice Secretary hit out at Boris Johnson’s latest racial inequality study.

3 min read

Boris Johnson’s latest review of racial inequality in Britain appears to have been “written on the back of a fag packet” to “assuage” the Black Lives Matters protesters, Labour’s David Lammy has said.

The Shadow Justice Secretary hit out at the Prime Minister for choosing to launch the new “cross-governmental commission” without key details on who will chair it and what its terms of reference will be.

And he warned the Government: “The time for review is over, and the time for action is now.”

Mr Johnson has said the review, announced in a Telegraph column, will look at “all aspects of inequality — in employment, in health outcomes, in academic and all other walks of life”.

According to the paper, it will report directly to Mr Johnson and be overseen by Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch.

But Mr Lammy, who carried out a previous review of racial inequality in the criminal justice system for Mr Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May said the launch of the latest commission felt as though the country was “going round in circles”.

The Labour frontbencher told the Today programme: “The question we've got to ask ourselves is — is this really the extent of our ambition, after all of the reviews?”

Reeling off previous government studies into race issues, Mr Lammy listed: “The Macpherson report in 1999 into institutional racism in policing.

"Boris asked Baroness McGregor-Smith to review workplace discrimination. Theresa May’s disparity audit in 2007. My own review. The Wendy Williams Windrush lessons review.

"You can understand like it feels that yet again in the UK, we want figures and data, but we don't want action."

Mr Johnson told reporters on Sunday that he wanted the review to ”change the narrative so we stop the sense of victimisation and discrimination”.

And he used his Telegraph column to warn against any attempt to start “purging the record and removing” images amid a row over statues.

Parliament Square’s statue of wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill was daubed with the word ‘racist’ during protests last week, while there were violent clashes this weekend between police and far-right protesters who claimed to be defending the statue.

Meanwhile other monuments around the country have been targeted by campaigners angry at depictions of those with links to the transatlantic slave trade.

But Mr Lammy said: “Black people aren't playing victim, as Boris indicates.

“They're protesting precisely because the time for review is over, and the time for action is now.”

And the Shadow Justice Secretary said of the PM: “I don't know why he's announced a commission, behind the paywall in The Telegraph, buried in the middle of yet another article about Churchill?

“If he was serious, why are there no details about how it will be staffed, its remit, its terms of reference, its timetable. 

“That’s the question. It’s because it's written on the back of a fag packet yesterday to assuage the Black Lives Matter protests.”

And he urged ministers: “Get on with the action. Legislate. Move. You're in government. Do something.”

Meanwhile, David Isaac, chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission said it was time for "urgent action".

"We know the scale of the problems we face to tackle the entrenched racial inequality in our country," he said.

"It is not new. There have been countless reports and the data exists exposing all the issues. Now is the time for urgent action. We need to see a clear and comprehensive race strategy with clear targets and timescales from Government.

"We hope this new commission will help deliver that and we stand ready to work with it."

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