Labour leadership contender Clive Lewis has said part of the campaign to leave the EU “had racism at its heart”.
Speaking to the Sophy Ridge On Sunday show on Sky News, Mr Lewis said: “I think part of the Brexit campaign, and part of the undertone of Brexit, from some politicians, Nigel Farage and others, had racism at its core and its heart.
“They used it as a mechanism to divide our communities, to divide our country.”
He added: “How many people of colour, how many people of colour, on the day after the referendum with a sense of dread because of what had happened?
“Ultimately our country had chosen to listen to Boris Johnson , someone who has a track record of racist commentary, of giving credence to racism, to Nigel Farage – someone who stood in front of a poster which was overtly racist”.
The shadow minister has unleashed a whole range of policies including calling for major constitutional reform.
And today he backed member-led calls at the party’s conference for the abolition of private schools.
He said his campaign is struggling because he is saying things that many people don’t want to hear: “Clearly I wish my mum could nominate me as well, that would be fantastic wouldn’t it? But it’s not quite in the rules.
“Look, it’s hard and I think some of the things that I’m saying aren’t necessarily things which everyone after a devastating defeat want to hear but the reality is that unless we transform ourselves as a party, transform how we organise, transform the culture of our party, stop the tribalism within our party, we won’t be able to win in the next five years.”
But Mr Lewis also hinted that his race had played a part in his struggle to get enough nominations from his parliamentary colleagues to get on the ballot papr.
Mr Lewis has so far been nominated by four MPs to be the next leader. Candidates need 22 Labour MPs or MEPs to nominate them before Monday in order to progress in the contest to replace Jeremy Corbyn as leader.
The Norwich South MP said: “Structural sexism, structural racism exists within our society and the PLP, the Labour Party is part of that society and it is for us to challenge that and to make sure that we do better.
“I have never said that it is because of my colour that I am not being nominated by my parliamentary colleagues, but what I was saying if you want to understand why we haven’t had a woman, why we haven’t had a person of colour as leader of the Labour Party then we have to look at the entity of the issue.”
He suggested the reason Labour has not had a woman leader is because of “structural sexism” in society.
He said: “Why do we think there hasn’t been a woman, a female leader of the Labour Party? I would say to answer the question for that (is) because we have something called structural sexism within our society. We have structural sexism and we have structural racism.
“Do I think if you go to the PLP (parliamentary Labour party) and speak to the members that they are overtly sexist, no I don’t. Just as I don’t believe they are overtly racist.
“But these issues, these things, run through our society.”
Mr Lewis, a shadow Treasury minister, suggested that the Duchess of Sussex has been the victim of “structural racism” in the media.
He said: “We can see it with Meghan Markle and the way that she’s been treated in the media.
“We know this is a reality of the 21st century still after 400 years of racism. You can’t just overturn it overnight, it is something that we’re going to have to work on.”
The royal couple announced on Wednesday that they planned to step back as senior royals and become “financially independent”, splitting their time between the UK and North America.
Crisis talks with the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William are expected to take place on Monday amid growing speculation about what their new roles will be.
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