England is "systemically racist", according to a report submitted to the UN by a prominent government critic and think tank CEO who called Boris Johnson a "brat".
The findings come in the wake of a tide of racist abuse directed at black football players following England's defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 final on Sunday night (Monday morning NZT).
A coalition of more than 100 civil society organisations and NGOs - co-ordinated by the race equality think tank The Runnymede Trust - has warned that the Government's approach to tackling racism risks breaking international human rights laws. Its report, which was paid for by the taxpayer-funded Equality and Human Rights Commission, found that the British government is in breach of a UN treaty aimed at eradicating racial discrimination. It concluded that "racism is systemic in England" and also warned that upcoming pieces of legislation are cause for "particular alarm" and will "threaten the rights" of black and ethnic minority people.
The Runnymede report's authors also questioned findings from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (Cred), published by Tony Sewell in April, which concluded that the system is no longer "deliberately rigged" against ethnic minorities in Britain. When the UK race report was published, the Runnymede Trust dismissed it as "a script that has been written for 10 Downing St", with the think tank's CEO, Halima Begum, criticising the Prime Minister as an "entitled Bullingdon Club brat".
More than a dozen Tory MPs later wrote to the Charity Commission demanding an investigation into the trust, claiming its criticisms were made "in bad faith". MPs in the Conservatives Against Racism, For Equality group rallied colleagues to rethink their attitude before an Urgent Question in the Commons today on racist abuse on social media following the Euro final.
Dr Sewell said last night he would "robustly defend" the Commission's findings. "Our report says in the introduction that there is structural racism that exists in this country, but not in that systemic way," he said.
"My view is that our report stands as it is, and we will robustly defend its conclusions."
Yesterday Downing St was forced to defend Priti Patel after Tyrone Mings, the England footballer, accused the Home Secretary of "stoking the fires" of racism by refusing to condemn those who booed the team taking the knee.
Government sources denied reports that a planned No 10 reception had been shelved over fears players might boycott the event. The Prime Minister's spokesman said: "We'll be talking to the FA to identify a suitable way for the PM to thank the players and coaching staff for their efforts."
Meanwhile, a number of Tory MPs said the Conservative party must "urgently challenge" its negative attitude towards taking a knee or risk "misrepresenting our own heart for those who suffer injustice". The Runnymede Trust-led report warned the Government's approach to tackling racism and inequalities "may in fact worsen" the situation. It claimed that the Electoral Integrity Bill, which would require voter ID at polling stations, would "marginalise" groups which are less likely to possess voter ID.
It also that the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which contains extra stop-and-search powers allowing for reasonable force without suspicion for ex-offenders "has profoundly worrying implications for BME groups" because they are "more likely to be sentenced for knife or weapon offences".
The Government is required to submit regular reports examining the current state of race and racism in England to the UN International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). The last report was due in April 2020 but has been delayed due to the pandemic. Civil society organisations submit their own "shadow" reports every four years alongside their equivalent Government report. A Government spokesman said in response that since its last ICERD report in 2015 it has "made significant progress".
"The Runnymede Trust's shadow report contains many errors and is too simplistic in saying that structural or systemic racism is driving all the disparities outlined in their report," he added. "We would urge them to work with the Government and carefully consider the recommendations in the report from the Cred. The Government will be providing a response to these recommendations which will act as our action plan for tackling inequality."