UK Politics: 'Much more to do' in fight against racism, says Boris Johnson

The prime minister is set to create a commission to investigate inequality
Johnson said there is work to do on tackling inequality
Join today
View market

The prime minister has said a commission will be created to "look at all aspects of inequality." Tradefair brings you the latest from UK politics...

There is much more that we need to do; and we will."

- Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has acknowledged there is "much more that we need to do" to tackle racism and inequality in the UK, after another weekend of protests and demonstrations in London and elsewhere.

There were moments of violence in the capital, as far-right protestors - denounced by the prime minister as "thugs" - clashed with police. Thousands gathered in London, saying their intention was to protect statues from attack by anti-racism demonstrators.

A monument to Winston Churchill in Parliament Square was vandalised last weekend, while in Bristol a statue of slave trader Edward Colston was torn down.

More than 100 people were arrested following the latest unrest.

Work to do

The events over the weekend were part of ongoing demonstrations that were triggered by the killing of George Floyd in the US last month.

Writing in the Telegraph, Johnson said "no-one who cares about this country" could ignore the events of recent weeks.

He described the gathering of right-wing activists intent on protecting the statue of Churchill as "utterly absurd", adding it was right that a "good number" were arrested because they were violent, aggressive towards the police and "patently racist".

But the prime minister also said it was "deplorable" that the monument was under threat of attack in the first place. He argued the UK should not attempt to rewrite the past by removing symbols of the country's history.

Discussing the government's position on current issues, Johnson said plans are in place to create a commission that will focus on inequality, since it's "no use just saying that we have made huge progress in tackling racism".

"There is much more that we need to do; and we will," the Conservative leader wrote. "It is time for a cross-governmental commission to look at all aspects of inequality - in employment, in health outcomes, in academic and all other walks of life."

Labour last week called on Johnson to show "national leadership, by coordinating the government's response to the complex issues underpinning these protests.

"This is a powerful moment in our history and it is important the prime minister is not found to be wanting," said shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds.

Health inequality

Inequality in health outcomes has been a key talking point during the Covid-19 pandemic. Reviews by the Office for National Statistics and Public Health England showed a disproportionately high number of people from ethnic minority backgrounds are dying with the virus.

Lord Simon Woolley, founder of Operation Black Vote and the advisory chair of the government's Race Disparity Unit, said while he was encouraged by the government's plan to create an inequality commission, it must lead to clear action and change.

"I'm hoping that this commission will focus on some of the solutions, some of the inequalities that have been laid bare by this deadly virus, in employment, in health, in education," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

It comes as the government takes its next steps to ease coronavirus lockdown measures in England. Non-essential shops have been given permission to reopen from today (15 June), having been shuttered since 23 March.

Retailers are required to enforce strict safety and social distancing measures, which resulted in long queues outside newly reopened stores in cities like London, Birmingham and Manchester.

Despite the efforts to restart businesses and the economy, the FTSE 100 tumbled at the start of the morning trading session over growing fears of a second wave of the pandemic. An early fall of more than 2% took the London blue chip index below the 6,000-point mark, but it regained some ground during morning trading.

This echoed a trend of sharp falls recorded across Asian markets on Monday. In Shanghai, the SSE Composite Index was down by 1%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index saw an even steeper decline of more than 2.1%.

What is Tradefair?

Tradefair is Betfair's new spread betting service, offering trading on thousands of financial markets such as Gold, EUR/USD, FTSE 100 and Twitter. Whether you think prices are going up or down, Tradefair lets you take a view.

Check out our latest Special Offers

Please note: Our services include products that are traded on margin and carry a risk that you can lose more than your initial deposit. The products may not be suitable for everyone - ensure you fully understand the risks involved.


Discover the latest articles

Read past articles