Conservative MPs have written to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, urging him to act after a Labour MP was recorded directing plainly racist remarks at the newly appointed Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng.
During a fringe event at the Labour Party’s conference in Liverpool on Tuesday, Labour’s MP for Ealing Central and Acton Rupa Huq suggested that Kwarteng was only “superficially Black,” and claimed that if you heard him talking on the radio you “wouldn’t know he was Black.”
“’Superficially, he is a black man.’ Superficially?! Racism and double standards of the Left’s ‘anti-racists’,” tweeted former Brexit Party MEP Christina Jordan.
Conservative MP Richard Holden said he is “fed up with twisted racism in the Labour party.” He highlighted how the party had been found by Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission to have committed “unlawful acts” with regards to antisemitism back in 2020 and lamented the fact a Labour MP is now “deciding they’re the arbiter of race and ethnicity.”
His colleague, MP Brendan Clarke-Smith called the remark “appalling,” adding: “Racism on the left still counts as racism. They may wave flags and try singing anthems, but they haven’t changed.”
Others questioned exactly what Huq meant regarding Kwarteng not sounding like a Black man on the radio, asking what she thought a Black man was supposed to sound like.
The Labour MP proceeded to claim that the Conservatives “superficially had four brown Chancellors,” spoke further about “a little brown guy,” and referenced Conservative MPs Suella Braverman and Kemi Badenoch’s participation in the recent Conservative leadership election without further qualification.
The comments were made in the presence of Labour party chair Anneliese Dodds.
Conservative chairman Jake Berry MP tweeted an open letter to Labour leader Keir Starmer on Tuesday, calling on him to “unequivocally condemn” the comments and requesting that he withdraw the Labour whip from Huq immediately.
The BBC put the comments to Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy on its Politics Live show on Tuesday afternoon. He called the remarks “unfortunate” and said he hoped she would “stand those comments down.”
According to Aubrey Allegretti, a reporter for the Guardian newspaper, Huq has insisted she “stands by” the comments and sees no need to apologize.
UPDATE: Rupa Huq has been “administratively suspended from the Labour party and therefore lost the whip,” Allegretti later reported. A Labour source told the Guardian’s Pippa Crerar that Huq’s remarks were “clearly totally inappropriate.”