By: Chandrashekar Bhat
RUPA HUQ has been reinstated as Labour MP five months after her suspension from the opposition party over her controversial comments about former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng.
Last year, the MP for Ealing Central and Acton described Kwarteng as “superficially black” because of his educational background and the way he spoke.
Labour suspended the whip after the widely criticised comment. This meant she sat in the Commons as an independent lawmaker till her reinstatement on March 3.
She said she completed anti-racism and bias training during her suspension and “reflected on the offence” caused by her remarks.
Huq had made her comment on Kwarteng at a fringe event organised by the Black Equity Organisation on the sidelines of a Labour conference in Liverpool in September last year.
She said, “He’s superficially, he’s, a black man but again he’s got more in common… he went to Eton, he went to a very expensive prep school, all the way through top schools in the country.”
“If you hear him on the Today programme you wouldn’t know he’s black,” the British Bangladeshi politician said at the event.
As the clip of the comments was leaked, Huq tweeted the following day, saying she contacted Kwarteng to offer her “heartfelt apologies” for her “ill-judged” comments.
But the damage had been done. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer insisted her remarks were “racist” and said she had been suspended from the party “very, very quickly”.
Fellow Labour functionary and Landon mayor Sadiq Khan too said Huq was “wrong” although he felt the MP was not “not racist” herself.
Khan felt her comment implied “all black people speak a certain way and all black people are working class.”
Labour restored Huq’s whip following support from campaigners who brought her anti-racism credentials, including her support for George Floyd-related rallies, to the notice of Sir Starmer, the Voice reported.