MANCHESTER, England — Britain is the best country in the world to be Black, Conservative rising star Kemi Badenoch claimed Monday — as she aimed culture war jabs directly at the opposition Labour Party.
Speaking at the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Manchester, Business and Trade Secretary Badenoch — seen as a potential future leader of the Tories — accused Labour of trying to “bend the knee” before an “altar of intolerance” and of peddling a “narrative of hopelessness” among ethnic minority communities.
Badenoch also serves as Minister for Women and Equalities, and has styled herself as an “anti-woke” politician, earning admirers on her party’s right flank.
In her speech to the Tory faithful, Badenoch argued that Labour wants to stoke racial divisions in the U.K. and said she tells her children the U.K. “is the best country in the world to be Black — because it’s a country that sees people, not labels.”
“The left accuses us of fighting a culture war. But we will not apologise for fighting for common sense,” Badenoch told the conference hall.
“Let Labour bend the knee before this altar of intolerance. We’ll keep building a country that is, in every way, stronger and fairer for all,” she added.
In 2021, Badenoch criticized the opposition — which has a huge lead in the opinion polls — for their response to a government-commissioned report on racism in the U.K., which found that key institutions in Britain are “no longer” rigged against people from minority backgrounds. Labour said the report used cherry-picked data.
But the crowd began to roar with approval when Badenoch started speaking about cultural issues — including the rejection of “critical race theory,” a familiar target of parts of the Republican right in the United States.
The business secretary’s comments on race came after Home Secretary Suella Braverman claimed in a speech last week that multiculturalism has “failed” in the U.K. — a claim PM Rishi Sunak did not endorse when asked if he agreed.