PRITI Patel has today vowed "I will not be silenced" after Labour MPs accused her of "gaslighting" minoriies in a debate about racism in the House of Commons.
The letter, signed by Naz Shah and 31 other Labour MPs highlights their “dismay at the way you used your heritage to gaslight the very real racism faced by black people and communities across the UK.”
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The letter, sent by shadow minister for community cohesion Ms Shah and co-signed by a number of Labour colleagues from ethnic minority groups, referred to comments made by Ms Patel in the Commons following the Black Lives Matter protests.
The Home Secretary was praised for her brave speech about her own struggles with sick racist abuse earlier this week.
Labour's Florence Eshalomi had laid into Ms Patel and questioned if the Government were doing anything to deal with racism.
In a stunning rebuke, Ms Patel then laid bare her own experiences, and claimed Labour "effectively said that this government doesn't understand racial inequality".
She continued: "Well, on that basis, it must have been a very different home secretary who as a child was frequently called a P**i in the playground.
"A very different home secretary who was racially abused in the streets or even advised to drop her surname and use her husband's in order to advance her career.
"A different home secretary recently characterised in The Guardian newspaper as a fat cow with a ring through its nose – something that was not only racist but offensive, both culturally and religiously.
"This is hardly an example of respect, equality, tolerance or fairness.
"So, when it comes to racism, sexism, tolerance for social justice, I will not take lectures from the other side of the House."
Today Labour MPs wrote to her to say she was "gaslighting" other ethnic minorities.
It said: "Being a person of colour does not automatically make you an authority on all forms of racism.
"We all have our personal stories, of the racism that we have faced, whether it has been defined by the colour of our skin or the faith we choose to believe in.
"Structures of racism, hatred and inquality have many layers.
"We ask you to reflect on your words and to consider the impact it had towards black communities in the UK trying to highlight their voices against racism."
But Ms Patel wrote back: "Sad to have just received this letter.
"I will not be silenced by @UKLabour MPs who continue to dismiss the contributions of those who don't conform to their view of how ethnic minorities should behave."
Fellow minister James Cleverly said the letter was "deeply offensive and crass".
The letter came as a BBC comic encouraged a racist a pile on to Ms Patel online.
Guz Khan, star of Man like Mobeen tweeted a snap of a surprised looking Ms Patel with the caption: “Shall we have a curry for dinner tonight Priti?” which sources close to the Home Secretary called “vile.”
A source close to the Home Secretary said: "In the week where she spoke movingly about the racist abuse she has faced all her life to get this from another person of colour is beyond ironic."
A spokesman for the comic did not respond when asked to comment.
Today Boris Johnson urged people not to protest this weekend amid potential clashes between Black Lives Matter campaigners and the far right over statues of slave owners.
The PM reminded people that it is still illegal to gather in groups of more than six outdoors.
Police fear clashes between rival protestors at the weekend with the capital and other cities set to host a third weekend of demos following the death of George Floyd in the US.
But the PM warned people not to take to the streets because of the continuing coronavirus pandemic.
A spokesman for the PM said: "The laws are in place to protect public health and seek to control the spread of coronavirus and if people aren’t able to follow the rules and any protest are therefore unlawful he would strongly urge people not to take part.”
Asked what the PM's message is to people thinking of protesting at the weekend, he added: "He understands the great strength of feeling but at the same time he had been very clear that any gathering of more than 6 people would be illegal and would urge people not to take part in protests if they can’t be conducted in a lawful way.
"The laws are in place to protect public health and seek to control the spread of coronavirus and if people aren’t able to follow the rules and any protest are therefore unlawful he would strongly urge people not to take part.”
"The PM is very clear that people should not be taking part in illegal marches. In this country it is operational decisions for the police on how to respond to each individual circumstance.”
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