'I will not be silenced': Priti Patel hits back at Labour MPs in major racism row

BRITAIN-HEALTH-VIRUS-POLITICS

Priti Patel has said she "will not be silenced" after receiving a letter from Labour MPs accusing her of using her "experiences of racism" to silence "other minority communities".

A total of 33 opposition MPs signed the letter to the home secretary, accusing her of having used her own experiences of prejudice to "gaslight" the "very real racism" faced by black people in the UK – recently highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement.

It comes after a Labour politician on Monday accused the home secretary of "using her identity as an Asian person" to "silence" black MP Florence Eshalomi.

22 PHOTOS
Priti Patel
See Gallery
Priti Patel
Johnson silent over when he first knew of Priti Patel bullying allegations
Vanessa Feltz (left) sips tea with newly elected Witham MP Priti Patel during an event supporting Breast Cancer Care's Strawberry Tea fundraising campaign at the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London.
Prime Minister David Cameron speaks with Witham MP Priti Patel in front of the Shah Sayyid Tomb in the Lodi Gardens in Delhi, India.
Prime Minister David Cameron and Witham MP Priti Patel, walk through Kolkata, India, where they visited the Howrah Bridge which was built by the Cleveland Bridge and Engineering Company.
Priti Patel who is the new Employment Minister, arrives at 10 Downing Street in London, as the PM puts the finishing touches to his new cabinet.
(left to right) Justice Secretary Michael Gove, Minister for Employment Priti Patel and Works and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith arrive in Downing Street to take part in the first Cabinet meeting since the Conservative Party won the General Election.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (centre) is flanked by Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Hugo Swire (left) and Priti Patel (right) as he arrives at Heathrow Airport, London, for an official three day visit.
Employment minister Priti Patel launches a new government scheme to give extra careers advice to school pupils during a visit to Holy Trinity Catholic School in Birmingham.
(Left to right) John Whittingdale, Theresa Villiers, Michael Gove, Chris Grayling, Iain Duncan Smith and Priti Patel attend the launch of the Vote Leave campaign at the group's headquarters in central London.
EDITORIAL USE ONLY Minister for Employment Priti Patel tries her hand at painting with Matt Gray, Painting Skills Development Manager and Matt Pullen, CEO of AkzoNobel, as she officially opens AkzoNobel's Dulux Academy, the UK's first training facility dedicated to painters and decorators, Slough, Surrey.
Works and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb and Minister for Employment Priti Patel arrive for a Cabinet meeting in Downing Street, London.
Boris Johnson and Priti Patel meet workers at clothing and uniform manufacturers Simon Jersey in Accrington, Lancashire, during a visit as part of the Vote Leave EU referendum campaign.
Priti Patel speaks at a rally with Boris Johnson and Michael Gove (right) in Preston town centre, Lancashire, as part of the Vote Leave EU referendum campaign.
Michael Gove, Boris Johnson (centre) and Priti Patel pull pints of beer at the Old Chapel pub in Darwen in Lancashire, as part of the Vote Leave EU referendum campaign.
(left to right) Boris Johnson, Priti Patel and Michael Gove during a visit to Farmhouse Biscuits in Nelson, Lancashire, where they were campaigning on behalf of the Vote Leave EU referendum campaign.
Boris Johnson auctions a cow during a visit to a cattle auction in Clitheroe in Lancashire, where he along with Priti Patel and Michael Gove are campaigning on behalf of the Vote Leave EU referendum campaign.
Priti Patel MP visits Shree Sanatan Hindu Mandir Temple in Wembley, London, whilst out campaigning on behalf of the Vote Leave campaign.
Priti Patel arrives at White Waltham Airfield in Maidenhead, Berkshire, to meet veterans who will outline why they are voting to leave the EU.
(Left-right) Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, International Development Secretary Priti Patel, Prime Minister Theresa May, Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London.
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall with International Development Secretary Priti Patel (right) during a reception and dinner for supporters of the British Asian Trust at Guildhall, London.
Priti Patel (left) with Boris Johnson's father Stanley Johnson and sister Rachel Johnson watch him speaking at a fringe event at the Conservative Party annual conference at the International Convention Centre, Birmingham. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel on a walkabout with local police during a visit to North Road, Harbourne, Birmingham before announcing his plan to recruit an extra 20,000 police officers and an urgent review will take place of plans to make it easier for forces to use stop-and-search powers.
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Eshalomi had called for action from the government to tackle discrimination in light of continuing protests calling for racial equality – but Patel said she would "not take lectures" on prejudice during the Commons session.

On Thursday, shadow minister Naz Shah and other Labour MPs – including Eshalomi, Diane Abbott, Tan Dhesi and Rosena Allin-Khan – questioned Patel's attitude towards the recent protests.

The letter reads: "We write to you as black, Asian and ethnic minority Labour MPs to highlight our dismay at the way you used your heritage and experiences of racism to gaslight the very real racism faced by black people and communities across the UK.

"We all have our personal stories, of the racism we have faced, whether is has been defined by the colour of our skin or the faith we chose to believe in.

(TWITTER)

"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."

Sharing the letter on Twitter, Patel wrote: "Sad to have just received this letter.

(TWITTER)

"I will not be silenced by @UKLabour MPs who continue to dismiss the contributions of those who don't conform to their view of how ethnic minorities should behave."

During Monday's fiery clash in the Commons, Vauxhall MP Eshalomi asked if Patel understood the "anger and frustration felt by so many people" amid the Black Lives Matter movement and recognised "structural inequality, discrimination and racism in our country".

Speaking in the Commons, Patel pointed to racist abuse she has received, saying she had been called a racial slur and characterised in a Guardian cartoon as a "fat cow with a ring through its nose".

The Guardian told the Telegraph that it believed that her depiction was in relation to a news story at the time.

Tens of thousands of protesters have been taking part in Black Lives Matter demonstrations across the UK as part of the global movement, sparked by the death of George Floyd in the US.

Most have been peaceful but Patel has been vocal about people who clashed with police and tore down a statue of a slave trader in Bristol.

Read Full Story Click here to comment

FROM OUR PARTNERS