UK politics news – live: Race report ‘glorifies slave trade,’ says MP and school sex abuse review is launched

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.

In his foreword, Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities chair Dr Tony Sewell wrote: “Put simply we no longer see a Britain where the system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities”.

However, the authors stressed: “We take the reality of racism seriously and we do not deny that it is a real force in the UK”.

Meanwhile, an immediate review into sexual abuse in schools has been announced by the Department for Education (DfE) – it will see Ofsted look at safeguarding policies in state and independent schools.

The investigation will also assess if schools have the appropriate systems in place to allow pupils to report their concerns.

Following the fallout of the race report, a string of clearly vexed social media users predicted the schools review would have little impact. “A government review into sexual abuse in British schools? What’s the bet it finds ‘no sexual abuse in British schools’?” one man wrote on Twitter.


Climate progress ‘impossible’ unless rich countries fund most vulnerable, says minister

Reining in the climate crisis will be near-impossible unless rich countries meet their funding promises to vulnerable nations, Alok Sharma, president of Cop26, has warned.

Mr Sharma urged wealthy nations to meet a longstanding commitment to provide aid to poorer nations grappling with worsening climate impacts.

Our climate correspondent Daisy Dunne has the full report:

Sam Hancock31 March 2021 18:40


‘What’s the bet it finds no abuse?’: People respond to schools review after panned race report

A flurry of social media users have responded to news of the government launching a review into sexual abuse in schools.

One woman wrote simply, “finally”, attached to the Department for Education’s announcement.

Others were more cynical, following the fallout of today’s race report which was largely criticised by MPs and British people alike.

As part of the review, 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, the DfE said.

Sam Hancock31 March 2021 18:23


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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


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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