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Ex-Boris Johnson aide Samuel Kasumu says diverse cabinet is not racism ‘get out of jail free card’

A Black former adviser to Boris Johnson has accused Rishi Sunak of using his diverse cabinet as a “get out of jail free card” against allegations of racism, as the fallout over Tory donor Frank Hester continues.

Author and member of the Tory party Samuel Kasumu said some of the most divisive politicians are non-white, including former home secretary Suella Braverman, and it is “not the colour of your skin that matters”.

“It has to be the content of your character and your willingness to lead, and that is not what we are seeing today,” he said.

Transport secretary Mark Harper said the Conservatives do not have a race problem, citing Rishi Sunak as the first British Asian prime minister (Peter Nicholls/PA Wire)
Transport secretary Mark Harper said the Conservatives do not have a race problem, citing Rishi Sunak as the first British Asian prime minister (Peter Nicholls/PA Wire)

In a damning assessment of Mr Sunak’s handling of the racism row over Mr Hester, Mr Kasumu said: “I just do not know what they are playing at.”

And, addressing Mr Sunak’s initial reluctance to describe Mr Hester’s comments as racist, Mr Kasumu said: “There is absolutely no way that any minister would have been told to come out and not condemn these remarks as racist and misogynist if I was in Downing Street.”

Author and ex-political adviser Samuel Kasumu has spoken out as the fallout from Tory donor Frank Hester’s remarks continues
Author and ex-political adviser Samuel Kasumu has spoken out as the fallout from Tory donor Frank Hester’s remarks continues

An investigation by The Guardian alleged that businessman Mr Hester, the Conservative Party’s biggest donor, said looking at Diane Abbott makes you “want to hate all black women” and that “she should be shot”.

Transport secretary Mark Harper was grilled on Sunday about whether the Conservatives have accepted an additional £5m from Mr Hester, on top of £10m over the past year, and if the party would accept any further cash from him.

And, asked by the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg whether the Conservative Party has “a problem with race”, Mr Harper said “absolutely not”.

Transport secretary Mark Harper said Rishi Sunak’s cabinet is  “the most ethnically diverse cabinet there has ever been” (PA Wire)
Transport secretary Mark Harper said Rishi Sunak’s cabinet is “the most ethnically diverse cabinet there has ever been” (PA Wire)

He added: “As the prime minister himself said this week, we’re a party proudly led by the first British Asian prime minister, with the most ethnically diverse cabinet there has ever been, and we’re a party which welcomes people from across the United Kingdom, whatever their background, whatever their race.”

But, asked about the comments, Mr Kasumu said it was “frustrating when ministers say that we have the most diverse cabinet in history and that is somehow to get out of jail free card”.

He said when he worked in Downing Street it was not Black and brown MPs who reached out when George Floyd was killed, but Mr Johnson who wanted to “bring communities together”.

“And now, of course, some of our most divisive politicians are people like Suella Braverman,” he added.

Samuel Kasumu said Suella Braverman is one of Britain’s most divisive politicians (PA Wire)
Samuel Kasumu said Suella Braverman is one of Britain’s most divisive politicians (PA Wire)

He told the BBC: “I know that we can do better… but that is not what we are seeing.

“There is absolutely no way that any minister would have been told to come out and not condemn these remarks as racist and misogynist if I was in Downing Street.

“So the problem is not just the prime minister, it is also his advisers, people who were my former colleagues, I just do not know what they’re playing at. We have to do better.”

Mr Kasumu has previously said an apology from Mr Hester was not enough and that he must use his “time and resources” to show he was sorry for his comments about Ms Abbott.