“You know, I’m really proud of our country, its culture, its resilience, its beauty.”
By: Melvin Samuel
Britain’s first Indian-origin Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has defended the UK’s record on race amid a brewing row over controversial remarks by a columnist attacking Prince Harry’s wife Meghan Markle, who is of African-American heritage.
Sunak was addressing questions posed by reporters during a visit to the Latvian capital of Riga on Monday when he spoke out against racism and highlighted his own heritage as carrying some weight on the subject.
“I absolutely don’t believe that Britain is a racist country. And I’d hope that as our nation’s first British Asian Prime Minister when I say that it carries some weight,” he told reporters.
“You know, I’m really proud of our country, its culture, its resilience, its beauty. And actually, it’s an enormous privilege to champion Britain and indeed, its institutions like the monarchy when I’m out and about on the world stage as I am here today,” said the UK-born politician, who has his family roots in Punjab.
Sunak was reacting to an ongoing row over former television presenter and columnist Jeremy Clarkson writing in ‘The Sun’ about loathing Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, “on a cellular level”, in the wake of the controversial ‘Harry and Meghan’ documentary being aired on Netflix recently.
Clarkson’s column received over 6,000 complaints to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), resulting in an apology from the writer and the newspaper removing the column from its website.
“For everyone in public life, language matters,” said Sunak, when asked about the furore.
Meanwhile, more than 60 cross-party British MPs have written to the editor of ‘The Sun’, Victoria Newton, to demand action be taken against Clarkson.
In a letter, they said Meghan Markle had received credible threats to her life and that columns such as Clarkson’s contributed to an “unacceptable climate of hatred and violence”.
The letter, coordinated by the Conservative Party Chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee in the House of Commons, Caroline Nokes, was signed by fellow Tory MPs as well as Opposition MPs from Labour, Lib Dem, Green and SNP.
“We cannot allow this type of behaviour to go unchecked any longer. We welcome the Sun’s retraction of the article and we now demand action is taken against Mr Clarkson and an unreserved apology to Ms Markle immediately,” they write.