Britain’s first Muslim cabinet minister today calls on the Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid, to step up and reflect the views of the UK’s non-white population at the heart of Government.
Sayeeda Warsi has warned that she was concerned the Conservatives might not win a majority at the next election unless the party started attracting more ethnic minority voters.
Now she is urging Mr Javid, who is the most senior non-white member of the Government, to “reflect the views and perspectives” of non-white voters at cabinet table.
“I think Sajid is a great financial brain and is destined for great things within the party,” she told The Independent.
“But he does not define himself in the way that I define myself in terms of background and identity. That is a choice for him. I sincerely hope he steps into that role now that I’m not there.
“Sajid will be the only non-white person around that table and I hope that he will reflect the views and perspectives that maybe some of our other colleagues don’t have.”
On Sunday Baroness Warsi, who resigned as a Foreign Office minister over the Government’s position on Gaza last week, hit out at “public school” Tories around David Cameron who had dismissed her as “a brown, working-class woman not good enough” to serve in government.
But she said she was encouraged by the number of Conservative figures with diverse backgrounds rising quickly in the party, in particular Priti Patel, Sam Gyimah and Shailesh Vara.
“Cameron has now set a trend where it is no longer unfashionable to be black or brown in the Conservative Party,” she said.
“There was a time when ethnic minority politicians would join the Conservative Party and pretend they were not ethnic minorities because they felt that if they were themselves they would hinder the chances of progress. But that has now changed.”
However she was also concerned by the loss of liberal progressive figures within the Government at the last reshuffle, such as Dominic Grieve and Ken Clarke.
“One of the biggest reasons for my resignation was the concerns around human rights and international justice,” she said.
Downing Street has declined to criticise Lady Warsi for her comments although privately there is irritation that, by characterising those around Mr Cameron as “public school” boys, she has exploited an area where the party is weak.
“As the Prime Minister made clear in his letter to Baroness Warsi last week, he valued her contribution as a minister – and before that in opposition – and was disappointed by her decision to resign,” a Downing Street source said.
But Alec Shelbrooke, a Tory backbencher, said Lady Warsi had “embarrassed herself” and her criticisms would “quickly fizzle out”.