Downing Street has confirmed on Thursday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s most senior black adviser has quit, a day after a government-commissioned report provoked outrage by saying that structural racism does not exist in Britain.
Samuel Kasumu had been talked out of resigning by ministers in February, after he complained of “unbearable” tension within Downing Street and said Johnson’s Conservative Party was pursuing “a politics steeped in division”, the BBC reported at the time.
Kasumu, who served as special adviser for civil society and communities, submitted his resignation last week and informed colleagues on Wednesday morning, according to Politico, just as the controversial report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (CRED) was released.
A government spokesperson confirmed Kasumu would step down in May, but said it was already planned and insisted: “Any suggestion that this decision has been made this week or that this is linked to the CRED report is completely inaccurate.”
Johnson — whose government is stepping up an offensive on so-called woke activism ahead of May elections — told reporters that Kasumu had “done some great stuff” on encouraging more people from ethnic minorities to take up vaccinations against Covid-19.
The pandemic’s disproportionate impact on ethnic minorities was among the areas downplayed in the new government report, which said that while prejudice persists in Britain, the country is not “institutionally racist”.
The prime minister said the report contained “some original and stimulating work” and that it would help inform policy about “the true nature of the barriers and the discrimination that they (minorities) unquestionably feel”.
“There are very serious issues that our society faces to do with racism that we need to address,” he added.