For the first time in Britain’s history, there will be no white man in any of the four major state offices.
Prime Minister-in-waiting Liz Truss, who beat Rishi Sunak in the Tory leadership race, is expected to appoint James Cleverly as foreign secretary, Suella Braverman as home secretary and Kwasi Kwarteng as of chancellor.
Kwarteng, who is set to become the UK’s first black Chancellor, will take the reins of a post where three of his Conservative predecessors were also from Black, Asian and Minority (BAME) backgrounds.
The expected appointments have been welcomed by some, including Boris Johnson’s former race adviser Samuel Kasumu, who resigned last year after a controversial report by the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities, which critics say rejected institutional racism.
“The new cabinet is another reminder that people from all walks of life can go far in the Conservative Party,” Kasumu said. “The challenge for us is to ensure that this diversity is reflected among those who vote for us. This will be the key to the future success of the party.
Kasumu recently co-founded the 2022 Group, an organization aimed at improving the Conservative Party’s “toxic” brand and its relationship with Afro-Caribbean communities in the UK.
“For as long as I can remember, Labor has taken ethnic minority voters for granted. This is one of the reasons I joined the Conservative Party. I wanted to make sure people from backgrounds like mine had a real choice,” he said.
“As a party, we are open and eager to use talent from across the country. But there is still a long way to go to broaden our appeal to ethnic minority communities.
Research of Queen Mary University of London from 2018 says Conservative Party members are 97% white, compared to 96% for Labor and the Liberal Democrats.
Simon Woolley, who founded Operation Black Vote in 1996 to increase the number of black MPs, said the new appointments would be “unprecedented”.
“It’s unprecedented for any political party,” Woolley acknowledged. “But even more than diversity, it’s a question of politics. There is no point in having great diversity if this cohort of MPs continues to engage in false culture wars that in effect pit poor white people against poor black people,” he said. “I desperately hope they don’t. I also hope they will recognize and address persistent racial inequality.
Braverman will become the second Indian-born British MP to be appointed Home Secretary if she succeeds Priti Patel who resigned In Monday.
In a statement, the Conservative Friends of India applauded the diversity of the Conservative Party. “Suella has been an exceptional candidate who has risen through the ranks of the party since her humble beginnings at Wembley,” the statement read. “It reflects that the Conservative Party is the true party of inclusivity and meritocracy, where everyone has the chance to excel, regardless of background.”
But Shaista Aziz, a Labor councilor at Oxford and anti-racism campaigner, called Braverman’s appointment “horrible”, because of his Support of former Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s decision to revoke Shamima Begum’s citizenship in 2019, and his calls for the UK to leave the ECHR following Rwanda’s decision.
“It is horrifying that she is someone who has supported Rwanda’s deportation policy, the continued demonization of refugees and migrants, as well as the issue of Shamima Begum,” she said.
“It is not enough to be a black or ethnic minority politician in this country or a member of the cabinet. That’s not what it’s about. It’s actually symbolism,” Aziz said. “I don’t believe these three appointments are going to change anything for the vast majority of people of color in this country, especially those from the working class. I cannot celebrate these politicians, knowing what their record is at a time of deep division.”