Number 10's race adviser tries to quit over 'tension' in government

Number 10’s race adviser tries to quit over ‘unbearable tension’ within government as he slams Tory politics ‘steeped in division’ – before withdrawing his resignation after talks with vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi

  • Number 10’s adviser on ethnic minorities Samuel Kasumu retracted resignation
  • Mr Kasumu reportedly said tensions in Government were at times ‘unbearable’
  • But retracted letter Thursday after talks with vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi

Samuel Kasumu reportedly retracted his resignation letter

Number 10’s adviser on ethnic minorities tried to quit his job over fears the Conservative Party was pursuing a ‘politics steeped in division’ – before retracting his resignation.

Samuel Kasumu, who is in his early 30s and originally from Barnet and now lives in St Albans, reportedly withdrew his resignation letter to Boris Johnson – in which he said tensions in Government were at times ‘unbearable’ – after talks with vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi.

In a letter, seen by the BBC, he wrote: ‘I fear for what may become of the party in the future by choosing to pursue a politics steeped in division.’

He said ‘the damage that is often caused by our actions is not much considered’, adding: ‘As someone that has spent his whole adult life serving others, that tension has been at times unbearable.’

In the letter he also said described the actions of equalities minister Kemi Badenoch, who had a public falling out with a journalist last week, as ‘concerning’.

Ms Badenoch accused HuffPost reporter Nadine White of ‘creepy and bizarre’ behaviour and published correspondence between the reporter and officials online.

Mr Kasumu, who has been a contributor for the Huffpost, is said to have suggested Ms Badenoch may have broken the ministerial code – which the BBC said the Cabinet Office was looking into.

But No 10 said during a Westminster briefing there is ‘no Cabinet Office investigation ongoing’. 


The BBC said he also described the actions of equalities minister Kemi Badenoch (left), who launched an online tirade against HuffPost reporter Nadine White (right) last week, as ‘concerning’

In his resignation letter, Mr Kasumu wrote that ‘more concerning than the act, was the lack of response internally’.

‘It was not OK or justifiable, but somehow nothing was said. I waited, and waited, for something from the senior leadership team to even point to an expected standard, but it did not materialise.’

Mr Kasumu was brought up in an economically challenging house and has dyslexia and dyspraxia.

He was a contributor for the HuffPost and is still described on its website as a ‘young political commentator’.

He has also written for the Guardian, New Statesman and was a columnist for Nigerian Watch.

In 2012 he wrote his first book called Winning the Race, which criticised what he saw as a lack of action by the Tories in appealing to ethnic minorities.

Mr Kasumu on Thursday retracted the letter after talks with vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi (pictured)

Mr Kasumu studied business and management accounting at Brunel University – where he was student President and Vice President and left with a 2:1 – and a postgraduate degree in Ethnicity, Migration, & Policy from Birkbeck, University of London, before moving into politics.

While at Brunel, in 2006, he was the President of the largest African and Caribbean Society on a university campus in the country, the HuffPost says.

During the 2011 London riots he acted as a community representative calling for peace, particularly in the Tottenham area in the north of the capital.

That same year the political adviser also featured in a campaign called Operation Black Vote, where he was presented as a leading entrepreneur and future political figure.

Since leaving university the Liverpool football fan has worked with faith groups and started out in politics at a local level.

But he was best known for being the founder of Elevation Networks – a student level social enterprise in Euston which tries to give underrepresented young people a more competitive stance in the labour market.

A Downing Street spokesman said: ‘It would not be appropriate to comment on individual staff members.’ Pictured: Boris Johnson

This was launched during his degree with some friends and it has blown up to an 8,000-strong workforce.

Meanwhile, during the 2010 general election he campaigned for Theresa Villiars MP, David Borrowes MP, and Philipa Stroud.

He has worked as a special adviser in Downing Street for the past year and a half. 

Aside from politics Mr Kasumu also sat on the No Barriers board at the British Fashion Council, where he worked to diversify the industry.

A Downing Street spokesman said: ‘It would not be appropriate to comment on individual staff members.

‘This Government is committed to inclusion and bringing communities together, and is the most ethnically diverse in this country’s history.

‘Last year we established a commission on race and ethnic disparities to examine and tackle inequality and discrimination wherever it is found. It is due to report shortly.’

Samuel Kasumu’s letter to Boris Johnson in full:

Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing to formally tender my resignation. I have given this decision a lot of thought but think now is the right time to move on. Like many in the House, the chance to work in Her Majesty’s government has been the ultimate privilege. I do not take for granted the opportunity to serve both my country, my party, and the Prime Minister. My particular gratitude will forever be with those that thought of me back in 2019.

The main thing that inspired me to say yes was the opportunity to carve out an offer for Britain’s minority ethnic communities. One that was distinctively ours. One that spoke to individuals like they had agency over their lives. One that better explained inequality in Britain, and one that above all allowed people like me to feel like a valued part of Britain’s island story.

It is well documented that black and Asian people are significantly less likely to vote Conservative, despite often having values that are aligned. The gains made under David Cameron in 2015 have been eroded in subsequent elections. Though we now have a coalition of voters to provide us with a much coveted majority, I fear for what may become of the party in the future by choosing to pursue a politics steeped in division.

Politics is of course an environment where there is always an opposition, an adversary. But I truly believe we have to consider others as best we can in our conduct. We can be firm, robust, but also civil and empathetic. I fear that empathy is a word not conducive to the culture that has been developed and 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. Last week, the actions of a Minister were concerning. I believe the Ministerial Code was breached. However, more concerning than the act, was the lack of response internally. It was not ok or justifiable, but somehow nothing was said. I waited, and waited, for something from the senior leadership team to even point to an expected standard, but it did not materialise.

There are things that make me so proud of my time at Number 10. We have put together a Commission on Race & Ethnic Disparities that has the potential to better explain an alternative world view on race relations in Britain. We set up the Windrush Working Group to deliver for the victims and have reformed the flawed compensation scheme that was built at pace by the previous administration. Moving the Social Mobility Commission closer to the centre will help the government to better explain what it means to ‘level up’.

Minister Zahawi said that his current job will be the most important of his life. I would say that the work I have been doing on the vaccine rollout is also the most important thing that I have been involved in. We are in a battle against misinformation and mistrust that could result in more lives being lost than is necessary. I would therefore like to continue leading on this work from the centre, with the view to leaving at the end of May, a time when we would hope the vast majority of the country’s adults would have received the first jab. There are two candidates that I believe are best suited to carry on the work that I have been involved with.

Yours faithfully,

Samuel Kasumu 

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