A government advisor on ethnic minorities tried to quit after Conservative equalities minister Kemi Badenoch publicly lambasted a young journalist for asking a question.
Samuel Kasumu, a senior advisor to Boris Johnson, sent a letter of resignation to the prime minister over the furore – but he changed his mind after last-minute talks with vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi, according to the BBC.
In his letter, seen by BBC News, Kasumu said he believed Badenoch had broken ministerial code when she publicly attacked HuffPost journalist Nadine White for asking a question.
White was forced to make her Twitter profile private after Badenoch posted an eight-tweet thread seeking to expose “how some journalists operate”.
In the Twitter thread, Badenoch called White “irresponsible”, “creepy” and “bizarre”, all for the simple offence of asking why Badenoch had not appeared in a video where Black MPs encouraged the public to take coronavirus vaccines.
Despite overwhelming backlash, Badenoch has not deleted the tweets – and the very public attack did not sit well with Kasumu.
In his letter to Johnson, Kasumu accused the Tories of pursuing “a politics steeped in division”.
He went on to criticise the government’s failure to address the controversy surrounding Badenoch, writing: “It was not OK or justifiable, but somehow nothing was said.”
He continued: “I waited, and waited, for something from the senior leadership team to even point to an expected standard, but it did not materialise.”
Kasumu added: “I fear for what may become of the party in the future by choosing to pursue a politics steeped in division.”
He went on to criticise the culture in government, hitting out at a lack of empathy, adding: “The damage that is often caused by our actions is not much considered.
“As someone that has spent his whole adult life serving others, that tension has been at times unbearable.”
Kemi Badenoch has been widely criticised for her Twitter rant.
Kemi Badenoch was slammed by Jess Brammar, HuffPost editor-in-chief, after sharing her Twitter thread about White.
“The correspondence you have published here shows the opposite of spreading disinformation – as you know, it is correct and standard practice for journalists to check facts and approach people in public office for comment.
“I totally refute the claim it is ‘creepy and bizarre’ to ask questions of a government minister, and Nadine was doing her job in asking them.”
Brammar added that it is “absolutely extraordinary” that Badenoch “accused [White] of spreading disinformation” following “a completely standard request for comment on a story”.
“Young, female, Black journalists receive some of the worst abuse on Twitter, and to behave in this way is extremely disappointing – even before you consider that the person involved is the minister for equalities. We stand by Nadine for doing her job correctly, as she always does,” she said.
Badenoch found herself embroiled in controversy once again on Friday (5 February) when it was revealed that she secretly met with anti-trans hate group LGB Alliance last summer.
In December, Ofcom boss Melanie Dawes told MPs it’s “entirely inappropriate” to quote the LGB Alliance on trans-related issues, saying it would be akin to quoting racist organisations on issues related to racial equality.