Labour MP heard calling Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng ‘superficially’ black

Sir Keir Starmer was under pressure to suspend Rupa Huq.

Rupa Huq
Rupa Huq

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is facing calls to suspend MP Rupa Huq after she described Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng as “superficially” black.

In audio published online, Ms Huq can be heard discussing his elite school background, before adding that “you wouldn’t know he is black” when listening to him on the radio.

The comments from the MP for Ealing Central and Acton, in west London, were made about the man who earlier this month became Britain’s first black chancellor at a fringe event at the Labour conference in Liverpool on Monday.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner told Ms Huq to apologise and take “immediate action” over the “completely unacceptable” remarks.

In the audio, Ms Huq could be heard saying: “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.”

Tory party chairman Jake Berry raised his “serious concerns” in a letter to Sir Keir, with the audio being published by the Guido Fawkes website shortly before his conference speech.

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you will join me in unequivocally condemning these comments as nothing less than racist and that the Labour whip be withdrawn from Rupa Huq as a consequence,” he wrote.

Mr Berry said that Sunder Katwala, who was chairing the event for the British Future and Black Equity organisations, was forced to challenge her remarks.

According to the Tory MP, Mr Katwala said that the Chancellor’s Conservative views “doesn’t make him not black … and I think the Labour Party has to be really careful”.

Ms Rayner told BBC Politics Live: “She should apologise for those comments.

“For me those comments are completely unacceptable.

“I think Rupa needs to reflect on what she has said and she needs to take immediate action.”

If she fails to apologise, Ms Rayner said: “Well that’s a whipping matter, what they do regarding the whip. But I’m pretty certain that the whip will see that and say that’s not acceptable.

“I’m sure that Rupa will recognise that’s not acceptable, I’ve known Rupa a very long time and I don’t think those comments are appropriate.”

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy added: “I wouldn’t have made them myself and clearly I hope Rupa apologises and retracts them, frankly.”

Asked if the Labour MP should have the whip withdrawn, he said: “I have only just heard this story to be honest, I don’t know the full circumstances so I don’t want to shoot from the hip.

“I hope she is able to stand those comments down.”

In a tweet, Mr Katwala said Labour chairwoman Anneliese Dodds was no longer at the meeting when the criticised comments were made.

Ms Huq and the Labour Party have been approached for comment.

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