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Sunak hurt and angry over Reform volunteer's racial slur

Britain's first ethnic-minority prime minister, Sunak was responding to comments by a man named as Andrew Parker calling Sunak a 'fucking Paki' - a British racial slur for people of South Asian descent.
Last Updated : 28 June 2024, 16:10 IST

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Stockton-on-Tees: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Friday he was hurt and angry that a supporter of Nigel Farage's right-wing Reform UK party had been recorded making a racial slur about him, saying it was too important for him not to speak out.

Britain's first ethnic-minority prime minister, Sunak was responding to comments broadcast by Channel 4 News, by a man named as Andrew Parker calling Sunak a "fucking Paki" - a British racial slur for people of South Asian descent.

Sunak, currently campaigning for a July 4 national election that his Conservative Party is tipped to lose after 14 years in power, was born in the southern English port city of Southampton to Hindu parents of Punjabi Indian descent.

"My two daughters have to see and hear Reform people who campaign for Nigel Farage calling me an effing Paki. It hurts and it makes me angry, and I think he has some questions to answer," Sunak told broadcasters.

"I don't repeat those words lightly, I do so deliberately because this is too important not to call out clearly for what it is," he added.

Farage said on Thursday when comments were first broadcast on Thursday that he was dismayed by the language used. But on Friday he suggested, without providing evidence, that Parker was an actor involved in a "complete and utter set-up" to undermine Reform during the election campaign.

"He (Parker) was acting from the moment he came into the office," Farage told the BBC.

Channel 4 News said its reporters did not know Parker before they met him as a Reform volunteer.

In the video, which was covertly filmed, Parker says: "I've always been a Tory (Conservative) voter but what annoys me is that fucking Paki we've got in. What good is he? You tell me, you know. He's just wet. Fucking useless."

Parker later told Channel 4 News in a statement that he had apologised to Farage and Reform "if my personal views have reflected badly on them and brought them into disrepute as this was not my intention". His statement did not address Sunak.

Reuters could not immediately reach Parker for comment.

Election Campaign

Sunak, 44, became prime minister in 2022 after first serving as finance minister, steering Britain's economy through the coronavirus pandemic during Boris Johnson's premiership.

He told reporters travelling on an election campaign bus with him on Friday that for the vast majority of Britons, people should be judged according to their merits and character, not their skin colour or gender.

Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, a non-partisan think-tank which focuses on migration and identity, echoed this comment.

"For most voters Sunak's ethnic and faith background, something they are aware of, is not the dominant lens in how they view his strengths and weaknesses," said Katwala.

Voters will mostly judge Sunak on his record, Katwala said, noting his popularity during the pandemic, and how that had fallen sharply after he became prime minister and grappled with a stagnant economy and record hospital waiting times.

The incident involving Parker could damage Reform because most of its supporters are not racist despite supporting a tougher approach on immigration, Katwala added.

"It is a risk for the party, they need to very carefully police who they let in," he said.

Reform this month defended one of its candidates who said Britain should have "taken Hitler up on his offer of neutrality" during World War Two, while another of the party's candidates praised Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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Published 28 June 2024, 16:10 IST

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