Former chancellor Sajid Javid has called for Boris Johnson to take a larger role in tackling racial inequality in Britain.
Javid said “only the Prime Minister is capable of driving real change” and that he should “bring the same energy and determination to fighting racial injustice and delivering equal opportunity” as he has to the fight against Covid-19 and for Brexit.
Javid, whose parents were Pakistani immigrants, wrote in the Sunday Times about the need for the UK to improve racial divides in the UK as Black Lives Matter protests rage across the nation.
Thousands have turned up to demonstrations across most of the UK’s major cities in the wake of mass protests in the US, which were sparked by the death of George Floyd.
Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer after he knelt on his neck.
Protests in London turned violent over the past three days as some demonstrators attacked police outside Downing Street.
Javid said he remained an optimist “when it comes to our country’s relationship with race”, but that fundamental changes needed to happen.
“Ethnic minorities in Britain are still the victims of racial injustice and substantial disparities in opportunity, as the think-tank British Future has demonstrated,” he said.
“The government can and must do more to address racial inequalities in our society.
“For starters, the Home Office has yet to implement the process of root and branch cultural change necessary in the aftermath of Windrush.”
He also called for greater action from the Prime Minister, comparing the challenge to the government’s “levelling up” agenda to fix regional inequalities.
“As with all large scale, systemic challenges, only the Prime Minister is capable of driving real change – and I know he cares deeply,” Javid said.
“Just as he has chosen to take personal control of the pandemic response and Brexit, he is able to bring the same energy and determination to fighting racial injustice and delivering equal opportunity.
“If we are to ‘build back better’, tackling the injustice of racial inequality has to be part of the answer.”