Race report news – live: Review ‘glorifies slave trade’ says Labour MP, as investigation branded ‘insult’

Today’s daily politics briefing

The shadow justice secretary David Lammy has branded the government’s race report an “insult”, with campaigners condemning its suggestion that Britain is not an institutionally racist country.

The Labour MP accused Boris Johnson of ignoring the wishes of British people who “are dying to turn the page on racism”.

“Boris Johnson has just slammed the door in their faces by telling them that they’re idealists, they are wasting their time. He has let an entire generation of young white and black British people down,” he added.

Shadow equalities minister Marsha De Cordova also hit out at the report, saying the government must explain why a passage “which glorifies the slave trade” was published.

Commissioned in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests last year, the report, which was published on Wednesday, says the UK has become a “more open society”.

While admitting that racism persists, its sees the UK “as a model for other white-majority countries” regarding race equality in education and the workplace.

Halima Begum, the chief executive of the Runnymede Trust, a leading race equality think-tank, is among those who disagree with the commission’s conclusions.

“Institutionally, we are still racist, and for a government-appointed commission to look into (institutional) racism, to deny its existence is deeply, deeply worrying,” she said.

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Sexual abuse in schools to be investigated in government review

An immediate review into sexual abuse in schools has been announced by the Department for Education (DfE).

Ofsted will look at safeguarding policies in state and independent schools, “the extent and the severity of the issue” and ensure there are appropriate systems in place to allow pupils to report their concerns.

Follow Liam James’ breaking news report as the department confirms the review will also look at ensuring schools are given enough guidance on how to deal with sexual harassment and violence allegations:

Sam Hancock31 March 2021 17:53

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Patel’s asylum plan based on ‘unfounded’ claims – experts

Home secretary Priti Patel’s planned overhaul of asylum policy is based on a series of “completely unfounded” claims, according to a group of more than 450 immigration experts.

Follow my colleague Adam Forrest’s exclusive story here:

Sam Hancock31 March 2021 17:38

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UK’s ‘accountability mechanisms aren’t working,’ says charity

Charity and fact checker Full Fact has issued a statement about the government’s race report, condemning officials for “releasing a favourable summary to select journalists prior to publication isn’t scrutiny”.

Sam Hancock31 March 2021 17:20

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Class action launched against government over NI protocol

The government has been hit with a class action, which claims post-Brexit Irish Sea trading arrangements infringe the economic rights of Northern Ireland citizens.

If successful, the commercial litigation could pave the way for companies adversely affected by the terms of the Northern Ireland protocol to claim significant financial damages from the government. The legal move is different to separate legal challenges that have been mounted against the protocol on constitutional grounds.

The action, which names the Cabinet Office and attorney general as defendants, seeks a declaration from the High Court in London that provisions in the EU Withdrawal Act relating to the protocol conflict with the economic rights provided for in the UK Human Rights Act.

The 1998 Human Rights Act enshrines the European Convention on Human Rights in domestic legislation.

The claim form lodged with the High Court this week names Ballymena haulage company Blair International and DUP North Antrim MP Ian Paisley as the initial claimants.

Solicitor Clive Thorne, who is acting for the claimants, said the next legal stage move would be to formally add a “long queue” of interested companies to the action. A court hearing would then follow, he confirmed.

The protocol was agreed by the EU and UK during the withdrawal negotiations in an effort to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland, but it has since caused a wave of unrest in NI with citizens claiming it breaches the Good Friday Agreement and leaves the country cut off from the rest of the UK.

Sam Hancock31 March 2021 17:09

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Starmer hits out at ‘ridiculous’ claims Tories are ‘party of law and order’

Sir Keir Starmer has hit out at the “ridiculous” claims that the Conservatives are “the party of law and order” amid rising crime and falling conviction rates.

The Labour leader said his party would put enforcing criminal justice at the centre of its local election campaign and make sure that “people feel safe in their own environment”.

He said the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill was a “huge missed opportunity” to “do something profound” about violence against women and girls.

Speaking during a visit to Sheffield, Sir Keir said the Tories’ accusation that Labour was “on the side of criminals” by opposing the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill was “complete rubbish”.

He said: “This comes from a government that has cut our number of police officers, cut our number of support staff, where crime has gone up, the conviction rate has gone down, it’s just ridiculous to call the Conservative Party the party of law and order.

“When your crime rates are going up and your conviction rates are going down, you have no right to start lecturing other people about criminal justice.”

The leader of the Labour Party, who was director of public prosecutions for five years, added: “What I think people want it to feel safe, in their home, in their environment, in their community. And when people say to me, as they do, ‘I don’t feel comfortable going out after dark, even in my own area’, then there’s something fundamentally wrong.”

Sam Hancock31 March 2021 16:47

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Progress made in tackling racism, says chancellor 

Rishi Sunak had told ITV’s Peston that the UK has made progress tackling racism. 

Speaking on Wednesday after the release of the race report, the chancellor said: “That’s not to say there aren’t instances of racism that of course exist in this country.

“But if I think about the things that happened to me when I was a kid, I can’t imagine those things happening to me now.” 

The minister added that ethnic minority groups are not monolithic and “people will have different experiences”. 

Rory Sullivan31 March 2021 16:20

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Black Britons are ‘being gaslighted’ by report, says David Lammy

Shadow justice minister David Lammy has stopped doing interviews on the race commission today for the sake of his mental health.

He tweeted on Wednesday afternoon that like other black Britons he was tired.

“Tired of the endless debate about whether structural racism exists with little desire to actually address it. We are being gaslighted,” he said.

Rory Sullivan31 March 2021 16:05

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Report condemned as ‘divisive polemic’ 

As mentioned earlier, the shadow equalities secretary Marsha de Codova has lambasted the race report, calling it a “divisive polemic”. 

Nadine White and Ashley Cowburn have a round-up of this and other reactions: 

Rory Sullivan31 March 2021 15:50

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Government must not use report as excuse for ‘shameful inaction’, say Lib Dems

The Liberal Democrats have urged the government not to hide behind the report, encouraging it to tackle racial injustice instead.

Wera Hobhouse, the party’s equalities spokesperson, said many peoples lives in the UK are “blighted by discrimination, inequality and injustice” but that the government is guilty of “shameful inaction” on the issue.

To address this, she called on ministers to develop a “proper race equality strategy”.

Rory Sullivan31 March 2021 15:30

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Tony Blair’s ‘uncritical embrace’ of globalisation damaged UK communities, says Nandy

Tony Blair’s approach to globalisation and capitalism cost Labour votes and damaged communities, a top member of Keir Starmer’s team has said.

In a speech on Wednesday shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said places like her constituency of Wigan had been “stripped of their vitality, their purpose, their inheritance” by free markets.

And she promised a new approach from Labour that would include “a rejection of the uncritical embrace of economic globalisation” and protect workers from unfair competition abroad.

Jon Stone 31 March 2021 15:10

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