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UK PM Rishi Sunak Says Top Party Donor’s Remorse Accepted After Row Over Racist Remark



“The comments were wrong. They were racist,” Rishi Sunak said (File)


British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Wednesday he accepted the remorse of his Conservative Party’s top donor after he was embroiled in a row over racism, while a minister suggested that the party might accept more money from him in the future.

Frank Hester, who has given 10 million pounds ($12.8 million) to the Conservatives in the last year, has issued an apology after the Guardian newspaper reported he said that looking at the country’s longest-serving Black lawmaker made him “want to hate all Black women”, and that she “should be shot”.

Hester said the 2019 comments about Diane Abbott were rude but had nothing to do with her gender nor her skin colour.

After originally declining to pass judgment on the comments, Sunak’s spokesperson eventually called them “racist and wrong”, and opposition parties said the Conservatives should return Hester’s donations.

“The comments were wrong. They were racist. He has rightly apologised for them and that remorse should be accepted,” Sunak told lawmakers.

Junior business minister Kevin Hollinrake said that, given Hester’s apology, the party did not need to return the money.

Asked if the Conservatives would accept another 10 million pounds from Hester, Hollinrake told BBC TV: “On the basis that we don’t believe Mr Hester is a racist, yes.”

Hester has said he abhorred racism.

The furore has plunged the Conservatives into another internal conflict over racism. The party’s former deputy chairman, Lee Anderson, was suspended after he refused to apologise for saying London’s first Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan, was under the control of Islamists.

Conservative lawmakers repeatedly said those comments were wrong but declined to say why, or say if they were Islamophobic, and Anderson has since defected to the small right-wing Reform UK party.

Opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said that Sunak had flip-flopped on racism on both incidents and showed the weakness in his leadership. Both sides are gearing up for a national election expected this year.

“Two weeks ago he (Sunak) marched them out (his lawmakers) … to defend Islamophobia… and yesterday he sent them out to play down racism and misogyny until he was forced to change course,” Starmer said.

“You have to wonder what the point is of a prime minister who can’t lead, and a party that can’t govern.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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