LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — The leading cabinet lieutenants of Britain’s third woman prime minister share her right-wing ideology. They are all also people of colour.
For the first time in UK history, no white men will occupy any of the four “great offices of state”: prime minister, Treasury, foreign office and home affairs.
Britain might even have got its first ethnic Indian occupant of 10 Downing Street. But Liz Truss beat Rishi Sunak in the ruling Conservative party’s contest to find a successor to Boris Johnson.
Traditionally the party of the better-off establishment, the Conservatives have made bigger strides towards ethnic and gender diversity in their top ranks than the centre-left Labour opposition.
Labour has still to elect a permanent woman leader, but surveys show it retains a hold on most non-white voters who credit its progressive economic policies and its historical fight against racism.
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner admitted the Tories were ahead in their visible diversity.
“That’s progress, and that’s really welcome. We do need diversity,” said on Tuesday as Truss prepared to announce her senior team.
But Rayner added: “It’s about what you do as well as where you come from.
“Liz Truss has been part of the (Johnson) cabinet that has made the decisions that have got us into the mess that we’re in.”- ‘Kind of banal’ –
With arguably the toughest brief at a time of economic crisis, Kwasi Kwarteng was appointed by Truss to become Britain’s first black chancellor of the exchequer.
As the first black foreign secretary, James Cleverly will offer a different diplomatic face for a country that once ruled a quarter of the planet.
Suella Braverman, whose family roots are in India, was meanwhile named home secretary with oversight of policing and immigration.
The new ministers are ardent opponents of “woke” awareness in race, and support UK plans to send would-be migrants arriving by boat to Rwanda.