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Norwich MP says 'black members of the cabinet sold their souls' to serve under Boris Johnson

PUBLISHED: 08:24 27 July 2019 | UPDATED: 08:24 27 July 2019

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

Norwich MP Clive Lewis has accused black member's of Boris Johnson's cabinet of "selling their souls and self-respect" to "serve under a racist prime minister".

(Around table from bottom left) Esther McVey, James Cleverly, Alun Cairns, Gavin Williamson, Liz Truss, Sir Mark Sedwill, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Sajid Javid, Amber Rudd, Robert Jenrick, Alister Jack, Nicky Morgan and Rishi Sunak, Mark Spencer, Jacob Rees Mogg, Alok Sharma, Baroness Evans, Andrea Leadsom, Stephen Barclay, Michael Gove,hidden, hidden, Julian Smith, Geoffrey Cox and Oliver Dowden, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds his first Cabinet meeting at Downing Street in London. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA Wire(Around table from bottom left) Esther McVey, James Cleverly, Alun Cairns, Gavin Williamson, Liz Truss, Sir Mark Sedwill, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Sajid Javid, Amber Rudd, Robert Jenrick, Alister Jack, Nicky Morgan and Rishi Sunak, Mark Spencer, Jacob Rees Mogg, Alok Sharma, Baroness Evans, Andrea Leadsom, Stephen Barclay, Michael Gove,hidden, hidden, Julian Smith, Geoffrey Cox and Oliver Dowden, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds his first Cabinet meeting at Downing Street in London. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

Mr Lewis, who represents Labour in Norwich South, made the remarks in a Twitter exchange between him and new Tory party chairman James Cleverly.

Mr Cleverly had responded to a claim made by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn that "only Labour can be trusted to unlock the talent of black, Asian, and minority ethnic people" made in 2017.

He said: "Just finished my first cabinet meeting, looking at my colleagues around the cabinet table when this tweet popped back into my memory. Seeing a lot of 'unlocked talent' in the room."

But Mr Lewis hit back and said: "Genuine congratulations James. I mean it. I'm just sorry you and the other black members of that cabinet had to sell your souls and self-respect to get there.

James Cleverly (Conservative MP for Braintree) Picture: House of CommonsJames Cleverly (Conservative MP for Braintree) Picture: House of Commons

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"You serve under a racist PM and sit next to a minister for equalities previously fired for the #Windrush scandal."

The Windrush comment referred to Amber Rudd, who kept her role at work and pensions secretary in the reshuffle, but in April 2018 she had to resign as home secretary over her handling on the Windrush scandal.

Mr Cleverly accused Mr Lewis of being "bitter about seeing more diversity in senior political positions" or "just scared".

To which Mr Lewis just said: "*sigh* #CaseClosed".

Mr Johnson previously described his top team as a "cabinet for modern Britain". The new prime minister appointed four full cabinet members from BAME background (17pc) plus two ministers who will attend - which is a record for any government.

However Mr Johnson has previously been branded as racist for describing African people as "piccaninnies" with "watermelon smiles" and compared Muslim women wearing the burqa to "letterboxes" and "bank robbers".

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