Priti Patel hits back after BAME Labour MPs accuse her of ‘gaslighting’ on racism in wake of Black Lives Matter protests
The Home Secretary said she would not be ‘silenced’ by Labour MPs.
Priti Patel has accused a group of Labour MPs of trying to “dismiss” her own experiences of racism amid a bitter row over the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Home Secretary said she would “not be silenced” after more than thirty Labour members signed a joint letter accusing her of using her heritage to “gaslight the very real racism faced by black people and communities across the UK”.
The letter comes after Ms Patel — who has hit out at “mobs” responsible for “unlawful and reckless acts” under the banner of the largely-peaceful BLM movement — dismissed claims the Government “doesn’t understand racial inequality”.
And she said this week: “On that basis, it must have been a very different Home Secretary who as a child was frequently called a Paki 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.”
Ms Patel added: “This is hardly an example of respect, equality, tolerance or fairness.
"So, when it comes to racism, sexism, tolerance for social justice, I will not take lectures from the other side of the House.”
But the Home Secretary was criticised in a letter organised by shadow communities secretary Naz Shah, signed by more than 30 MPs.
They said: “We write to you as Black Asian and Ethnic Minority Labour MPs to highlight our dismay at he way you used your heritage and experiences of racism to gaslight the very real racism faced by Black people and communities across the UK.”
And they added: “We all have our personal stories, of the racism that we have faced, whether it has been being defined by the colour of our skin or the faith we choose to believe in.
“Our shared experiences allow us to feel the pain that communities feel, when they face racism, they allow us to show solidarity towards a common cause; they do not allow us to define, silence or impede on the feelings that other minority groups may face.
“Being a person of colour does not automatically make you an authority on all forms of racism.”
The group, which also includes shadow ministers Chi Onwurah, Khalid Mahmood and Rosena Allin-Khan, plus former frontbenchers Diane Abbott and Kate Osamor, said that “authentic experiences of black men, women and children in the US and the UK”, including of police brutality, could not be “silenced by some shared feeling”.
And they urged the Cabinet minister “to reflect on your words and to consider the impact it had towards black communities in the UK trying to highlight their voices against racism“.
But hitting back on Twitter, Ms Patel said she was “sad to have just received this letter”.
And the Home Secretary added: “I will not be silenced by Labour MPs who continue to dismiss the contributions of those who don't conform to their view of how ethnic minorities should behave.”