Sat, 20 April 2024

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By Bishop of Leeds
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Labour MP Rupa Huq Suspended For Calling Kwasi Kwarteng “Superficially A Black Man”

The MP Rupa Huq has been suspended after describing the Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng as being "superficially" black (Alamy)

3 min read

Labour MP Rupa Huq has been administratively suspended from the party after calling the Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng "superficially" black.

Huq was heard in an audio recording from a fringe event at Labour’s party conference in Liverpool talking about Kwarteng’s elite school background and saying "you wouldn't know he is black" when listening to him on the radio.

The remarks were condemned by Tory party chairman Jake Berry, who called for the whip to be suspended from Huq, as well as Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner, who told Huq to apologise and take "immediate action" over the "completely unacceptable" remarks.

She has now been notified of an administrative suspension, which means she has also had the Labour whip suspended.

A Labour spokesperson said: “We obviously condemn the remarks she made which were totally inappropriate, and we call on her to withdraw and apologise.”

It means the MP for Ealing Central and Acton, in west London, cannot sit in the Commons for Labour.

Huq later tweeted that she had apologised to Kwarteng and said her comments were "ill-judged". ITV News reported that a Labour source had said the apology does not mean Huq will have the whip automatically restored and that she remains suspended pending investigation.

In the audio, published by the Guido Fawkes website shortly before Labour leader Keir Starmer gave his flagship speech at Conference, Huq says of Kwarteng, who became Britain's first black Chancellor earlier this month, that: "Superficially he is a black man.

"He went to Eton, I think, he went to a very expensive prep school, all the way through, the top schools in the country.

"If you hear him on the Today programme, you wouldn't know he is black."

In response Berry raised his "serious concerns" in a letter to Starmer.

"I trust you will join me in unequivocally condemning these comments as nothing less than racist and that the Labour whip be withdrawn from Rupa Huq as a consequence," he wrote.

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy also condemned the comments. Speaking to BBC Politics Live before her suspension was confirmed, he said: "I wouldn't have made them myself and clearly I hope Rupa apologises and retracts them, frankly."

The audio was released just ahead of Starmer’s keynote address to the conference, which he used to argue now is a "Labour moment", where the party could provide the leadership the nation "so desperately needs".

He also received a standing ovation when he discussed rooting out racism from the party.

“I knew in April 2020, when I became leader of this party, we had a big task before us,” he said.

“We had to change our party and prepare for power all in one go. Not change for change’s sake. Change with a purpose.

“To make our Labour Party fit to serve our country. That’s why we had to rip anti-Semitism out by its roots.”

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