Johnson announces body to probe inequality amid race protests

LONDON (AFP) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was setting up a commission to look at “all aspects of inequality” following race protests across Britain.

Writing in the Telegraph newspaper yesterday, Johnson said there was “much more that we need to do” to tackle racism despite “huge progress”, and argued the “substance” of the problem needed to be addressed, rather than the “symbols”.

There have been Black Lives Matter demonstrations in cities across the United Kingdom since the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in the United States on May 25, and Saturday saw far-right groups gather in London to counter the anti-racism demonstrators.

“It is time for a cross-governmental commission to look at all aspects of inequality – in employment, in health outcomes, in academic and all other walks of life,” Johnson wrote in the article, which was also published online late on Sunday.

“We need to tackle the substance of the problem, not the symbols.” Race campaigners have called for the removal of statues depicting some historical figures, and the toppling of a statue of the 17th-Century slave trader Edward Colston in the southwestern port city of Bristol is considered a defining moment in Britain’s Black Lives Matter movement.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits a shop in Westfield Stratford shopping centre in east London. PHOTO: AP