UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, a contender for the party leadership, has exposed himself to a barrage of ridicule after saying he backed a Tory Islamophobia inquiry because he wants the party to be “whiter than white”.
Hunt made the gaffe when Sajid Javid compelled all of the Tory leadership contenders into backing an independent probe into claims of Islamophobia in the party during Tuesday night’s TV debate.
As the Foreign Secretary spoke up in favour of the probe, he told the Today programme:
“I think we should have an independent inquiry because the cancer of racism and prejudice is not restricted to any one political party.”
“We have been very vociferous calling out Jeremy Corbyn and anti-Semitism and if we are going to do that, and I think we are right to do that, then we have to be whiter than white ourselves.”
The blunder sparked an immediate response, with Dawn Butler, Labour’s Shadow Equalities Minister saying it “tells us everything we need to know about the Tories’ failure to recognise the problem”.
Asked about how he will address racism in the Conservative Party, Jeremy Hunt says his party must be “whiter than white”.— (((Dawn Butler MP))) (@DawnButlerBrent) June 19, 2019
This Freudian slip tells us everything we need to know about the Tories’ failure to recognise the problem🤦🏾♂️
Comedian David Baddiel mocked: “Proving once again that he’s a man for the turn of phrase, Jeremy Hunt on @bbcradio4 just said that if his party is going to fight racism they need to be 'whiter than white'.”
Proving once again that he’s a man for the turn of phrase, Jeremy Hunt on @bbcradio4 just said that if his party is going to fight racism they need to be “whiter than white.”— David Baddiel (@Baddiel) June 19, 2019
Twitterati also came down hard on the Tory leadership contender’s use of words, with some users making mocking reference to Jeremy Hunt’s earlier gaffe from several days ago, when as part of his campaign, Hunt decided to speak up for the rights of older people to die with dignity and respect. However, a tweet in which he shared the sentiment hit a bum note, as he shared the slogan, writing: “Every older person should die with dignity and respect. We should be the party who sorts it out.”
That's my favourite quote since Hunt accidentally said the Tories should help old people with dying!— RD Hale 🌹 (@SkyeCitySeries) June 19, 2019
Jeremy Hunt's answer to islamaphobia is to be whiter than white when it comes to racism. (Today, radio 4, 19.06.19). When will folks get a handle on unconscious bias as the genuine challenge!?— Karen Minikin (@karen_minikin) June 20, 2019
Jeremy Hunt wants to be whiter than white on racism. Good start there, Jeremy! #JeremyHunt— Paul Thompson (@PgTomsun) June 19, 2019
#C4News Good to know the Tories are going to have an investigation into the racism in their party. Let's just hope it's just not a whitewash.— @Rigger01 (@Rigger012) June 19, 2019
Jeremy Hunt on Today. ‘We’ve been vociferous in calling out anti-semitism in Jeremy Corbyn so in relation to Islamophobia we must be whiter than white’ Really doesn’t get racism and the corrosive effects of language does he?🤦♀️🙄— nicola hale (@fiddlernic) June 19, 2019
Conservative MPs are due to choose the two men who will go head-to-head at the final stage of their leadership race in two rounds of voting on Thursday, as the remaining four candidates are whittled down to three in another secret ballot. Subsequently, a further vote shall select the final two, one of whom will be elected leader by party members.
Boris Johnson topped Wednesday's third ballot with 143 votes, ahead of Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove and Sajid Javid.