Keir Starmer accused of ‘hiding’ over Rupa Huq ‘racism’ allegations

Keir Starmer grilled by Nugent on Rupa Huq's comments

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Sir Keir Starmer has been accused of “hiding” amid allegations of “racist” comments made by Labour MP Rupa Huq. Ms Huq had the whip suspended yesterday, after making comments about Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng which were branded “racist”. Appearing on BBC Radio 4 this morning, Sir Keir was asked: “Can you have somebody in the Labour party whose remarks you’ve just characterised as ‘racist’?”

He responded: “Well it goes down into an independent process and that will have to decide what the outcome is.”

Presenter Martha Kearney then pressed Sir Keir, saying: “But you’re the leader of the Labour Party. Doesn’t that sound legalistic to hide behind that?”

He responded: “I don’t think it sounds legalistic to say in my opinion, it’s racist.

“In my opinion, the action we took swiftly yesterday to suspend the whip was absolutely right.

“But now there’s a process, of course there is.

“An independent process and everybody understands that.”

Speaking about Conservative Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng at an event on the fringes of the Labour Party Conference, Ms Huq had said: “Superficially he is a black man”.

She added: “He went to Eton I think he went to a very expensive prep school…

“If you hear him on the Today programme, you wouldn’t know he is black”.

Ms Huq added: “Superficially they’ve had four brown Chancellors and that.

“But when you have a little brown guy who, and also the leadership contest I think that I’d say alludes to that, when there was say Suella Braverman, Kemi Badenock, all these people in it.”

She made the comments at an event entitled “What’s next for Labour’s agenda on race?”, which took place on the fringes of the conference in Liverpool.

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Responding to Ms Huq’s comment, event chair Sunder Katwala said Mr Kwarteng’s Conservative views don’t “make him not black”.

Mr Katwala added: “I think the Labour Party has to be really careful”.

Conservative Party Chairman Jake Berry wrote to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer yesterday morning to raise “serious concerns” about the comments.

Mr Berry called on Mr Starmer to “unequivocally condemn” the comments by withdrawing the Labour whip from Ms Huq.

He described the comments as “appalling” and “racist”

Ms Huq, who yesterday said she “stands by” her comments and saw no need to apologise, has now offered her “sincere and heartfelt apologies” to Mr Kwarteng.

Writing on Twitter yesterday, she said: “I have today contacted Kwasi Kwarteng to offer my sincere and heartfelt apologies for the comments I made at yesterday’s Labour conference fringe meeting.

“My comments were ill-judged and I wholeheartedly apologise to anyone affected.”

Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy had previously called on Ms Huq to “stand those comments down”.

The Labour MP told the BBC her remarks were “unfortunate”.

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