David Lammy has criticised Boris Johnson over the number of tweets he wrote about the statue of Winston Churchill, calling the prime minister’s social media posts “a deflection”.
Speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, the shadow justice secretary said the prime minister had failed to treat other issues with the same seriousness.
Lammy noted that Johnson had sent out a series of tweets on the subject of statues on Friday after Churchill’s memorial was daubed with the words “was a racist” earlier this week.
"Boris Johnson sent out eight tweets, I think it was, on Friday on Winston Churchill and statues,” Lammy said.
"He's never tweeted eight times in a day on coronavirus, he's never tweeted eight times in a day on the Windrush review or what he's going to do about it, or on the review that David Cameron asked me to do on disproportionality in the criminal justice system and what he's going to do about it.
"This feels to me like a bit of a deflection. Let's get to the action, let's have some substance, let's do something about these historic injustices that still exist in our country."
Lammy also called on the government to "deal with the substance" around racism and not focus on individual ministers' experiences of racism.
"We still only have in this country 1% of police officers that are black, 1% of judges that are black, 51% of (those in) our young offender institutions are from black, Asian, or minority ethnic backgrounds, languishing in those young offenders' prisons.
"Those are the serious issues that people want the government to deal with. Not statues, not Priti Patel, deal with the problems."
The statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square is a permanent reminder of his achievement in saving this country – and the whole of Europe – from a fascist and racist tyranny. 1/8
— Boris Johnson #StayAlert (@BorisJohnson) June 12, 2020
The prime minister tweeted on Friday that although Churchill held opinions that were "unacceptable to us today" he had still saved Britain from "fascist and racist tyranny".
His defence of the wartime prime minister came after Churchill’s statue was daubed with the words "was a racist" last weekend by protesters attending a Black Lives Matter march.
The statue in London's Parliament Square was then sealed in a protective box ahead of further protests this weekend.
In his twitter thread, Johnson said monuments like Churchill's were put up by previous generations as he urged people to "stay away" from demonstrations amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"We cannot try to edit or censor our past," he wrote of moves to remove tributes to historical figures.
"We cannot pretend to have a different history."