Priti Patel challenged cabinet colleagues over patronising and insulting BME label

first_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Priti Patel, the former international development secretary, said she had told Conservative colleagues not to “label me as BME”.The leading Brexiteer said she considered the term, which is a common abbreviation for Black and Minority Ethnic, “patronising” and “insulting”.”I don’t like the labelling of people. I don’t like the term BME. I’m British first and foremost, because I was born in Britain,” she told BBC radio.”I challenge all my colleagues in the Conservative Party and in Westminster: Don’t label me as a BME. I’ve said that to people in the cabinet. I’ve said that to civil servants. I think it’s patronising and insulting.”She said the term was “totally unhelpful because we are people and everybody wants to be recognised for their individual merits”. Ms Patel is the daughter of Indian immigrants of Gujarati origin who left Uganda shortly before Idi Amin expelled the Asian community.The Whitham MP, who was the first female Indian cabinet minister, said she was “not sure” if Britain would ever see a prime minister from a minority background, explaining there were many institutional barriers.But she said such a milestone would  show the country was a “true meritocracy” and did not rule out a bid for the Conservative leadership herself at some point.”Who knows?” she said, when asked if she could be prime minister.center_img The general election last year returned more black and minority ethnic MPs than ever before. The House of commons now has 52 BME MPs, amounting to eight per cent of seats, a two per cent increase on 2015.Ms Patel, who resigned from her cabinet post in November for failing to disclose 14 meetings with Israeli figures, said she would like to see more people from Indian backgrounds in politics, but said it would be a “regressive step” for any political party or government to put people in posts “just because they are women or because they represent a minority group”. last_img read more