UK will be 'perceived as racist' if Rishi Sunak is not elected prime minister, prominent Tory donor claims
- The UK will be "perceived as racist" if Rishi Sunak is not elected PM, a Tory donor has claimed.
- Rami Ranger said if Sunak did not succeed Boris Johnson the UK would get "a bad name".
If Rishi Sunak doesn't become the UK's next prime minister, the country will get a "bad name" and be "perceived as racist", a prominent Conservative donor said.
The comments were made by Rami Ranger, who has given £1.3 million to the party personally and through his firm Sun Mark. He was made a lord in 2019 by Theresa May.
It came as Sunak competed with Liz Truss to be chosen by Conservative Party voters to succeed Boris Johnson as the party leader and therefore prime minister.
Ranger told the Indian news channel Bharat Tak he was backing Sunak, a former chancellor, because his "calibre is above everyone else". The interview was in a mixture of Hindi and English, which Insider translated.
He said that "internal politics" could work against Sunak, who if successful would become the UK's first prime of Indian origin.
"If people reject him, it will be a bad name for the party and the country because this will be perceived as racist," Ranger said.
"And so there is pressure on them to prove that here race does not matter. Calibre matters and Rishi's calibre is above everyone."
He added: "I am optimistic that people here will be fair and will not reject anyone on the basis of race."
The race to succeed Boris Johnson has been widely praised as the most diverse in British history, with candidates including Iraqi-born Nadhim Zahawi, Kemi Badenoch, who was born in London to Nigerian parents, and Sajid Javid, whose parents came from Pakistan.
Sunak, who was the frontrunner during the parliamentary stage of the contest, made it to the final two against Truss, who currently has the edge. She would be the UK's third female prime minister.
Sunder Katwala, the director of diversity think tank British Future, told Insider: "I think we now have ever-stronger evidence to state with increasing confidence that this leadership election will not be decided by either Rishi Sunak's ethnicity or Liz Truss's gender.
"Two-thirds of the Conservative MPs voted for an ethnic minority candidate with their first leadership vote. In the membership polls, there was a late surge for Kemi Badenoch, who was the favourite among members of the last four. That seems to me to strike a decisive blow to the idea that skin colour discrimination is decisive in this race.
"It is an ideological party — on Brexit and taxation — that is rather proud of having Black and Asian Conservatives when they share those Tory views," he said. "The claim that skin colour is decisive for most members is simply impossible to align with the evidence on their views."
Katwala noted that "underdog" Sunak had "a tough battle" ahead of him to reach Downing Street.
"But it is an election about leadership, taxation and the future direction of the party. I don't think Sunak's supporters or the party's political opponents have any credible evidence to suggest that race or gender is more than a marginal factor in this leadership election."
Asked to elaborate on his initial comments, Ranger published a Twitter video.
—Lord Rami Ranger CBE (@RamiRanger) July 27, 2022
Via email, Ranger said that his interview was "given to an Indian TV to emphasise that the British and the Conservative Party are not racist."
He stressed that Sunak being in the running for prime minister demonstrated "the British sense of fair play".
But he added: "If the majority of the members overwhelmingly reject Rishi Sunak, it will create a negative perception in the minds of ethnic communities. It does not matter what I say; what matters is which way the public will vote."
"Rishi has been supported by the majority of the parliamentary Conservative Party, and I believe people should support their elected representative. If they don't, then it is not me. It is them who send such [a] notion."
Asked if he thought racism was still a factor in UK politics, Ranger said "not as much as when I started my journey in the Conservative Party some 35 years ago. We had to form the British-Asian Conservative Link to bring positive change to the Party… Due to our work, the Party has become more robust and our democracy richer."
Sunak's campaign team declined to comment, saying only that "Rami's views are his own".
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