Johnson aide quits as ministers face backlash over race disparities report

Support us and go ad-free

Boris Johnson’s most senior Black adviser has resigned. It comes after the government faced backlash over a review which claimed Britain is no longer a country where the “system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities”.


Downing Street said Samuel Kasumu will remain in post until May and he had planned his departure for several months.

His exit is allegedly not linked to the landmark report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (Cred), which faced heavy criticism over its findings, although the timing is proving uncomfortable for the government either way.

A No 10 spokesperson said Kasumu has played an “incredibly valuable role” during his time as a special adviser. They added:

As he previously set out, he will be leaving government in May – this has been his plan for several months and has not changed.

Any suggestion that this decision has been made this week or that this is linked to the Cred report is completely inaccurate.

Politico said Kasumu notified the prime minister’s chief of staff Dan Rosenfield of his decision to quit his job – which paid up to £75,000 – last week. He has reportedly been unhappy in government for some time, with a resignation letter drafted – but then retracted – in February.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

In the letter, which was obtained by the BBC, Kasumu accused the Conservative Party of pursuing “a politics steeped in division” and suggested equalities minister Kemi Badenoch may have broken the ministerial code in her public spat with a journalist.


Shadow women and equalities secretary Marsha de Cordova said:

To have your most senior adviser on ethnic minorities quit as you publish a so-called landmark report on race in the UK is telling of how far removed the Tories are from the everyday lived experiences of black, Asian and ethnic minority people.

Their divisive report appears to glorify slavery and suggests that institutional racism does not exist, despite the evidence to the contrary. It is no wonder they are losing the expertise from their team.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

The Cred report was published on 31 March and has faced heavy criticism.

Commission chairman Dr Tony Sewell said his team had found no evidence of “institutional racism” and the report criticised the way the term has been applied, saying it should not be used as a “catch-all” phrase for any microaggression. The commission said geography, family influence, socio-economic background, culture and religion all affect life chances more than racism.

Its findings have been described as insulting and divisive, and the chairman of the review has been accused of putting a “positive spin on slavery and empire” when explaining its recommendation on teaching history in schools.

In response to the criticism, Sewell said to suggest it was “trying to downplay the evil of the slave trade” is “absurd”. He added:

It is both ridiculous and offensive to each and every commissioner. The report merely says that, in the face of the inhumanity of slavery, African people preserved their humanity and culture.


The report proposed a Making Of Modern Britain teaching resource to “tell the multiple, nuanced stories of the contributions made by different groups that have made this country the one it is today”.

In his foreword to the report, Sewell said the recommendation is the body’s response to “negative calls for ‘decolonising’ the curriculum”. He wrote that the resource should look at the influence of the UK during its Empire period and how “Britishness influenced the Commonwealth”, and how local communities influenced “modern Britain”.

He added:

There is a new story about the Caribbean experience which speaks to the slave period not only being about profit and suffering, but how culturally African people transformed themselves into a remodelled African/Britain.

Highlighting the passage on Twitter, de Cordova said it was “one of the worst bits” of the report which was “putting a positive spin on slavery and empire”.

Halima Begum, chief executive of race equality think tank the Runnymede Trust, said:

Comments about the slave trade being a Caribbean experience, as though it’s some kind of holiday … this is how deafening it is, cultural deafness, it’s completely out of kilter with where British society is, I believe.

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us