Could Britain have its first ethnic minority Prime Minister?

One thing that has been notable of the candidates touted, has been the number of ethnic minority MPs

Published

With Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigning this week, MPs are weighing up whether to throw their hat in the ring to become the next Tory leader and in turn, the next Prime Minister.

As you’d expect, many of the runners and riders are familiar faces - those who hold or have held several of the great offices of state. Former Chancellors, former Home Secretaries, former Foreign secretaries.

However, one thing that has been notable of the candidates touted, has been the number of ethnic minority MPs that are rumoured to be running: Rishi Sunak, Sajid Javid, Nadhim Zahawi, Suella Braverman, Kemi Badenoch and Priti Patel.

Many of these potential candidates have specifically noted that they do not want to be known for their ethnicities, but instead for their contributions and achievements.

Indeed, a number of these candidates have compelling stories of overcoming barriers and adversities. For example, Chancellor of the Exchequer Nadhim Zahawi was born in Iraq and fled the country to the UK with his family during the early years of Saddam Hussein's reign.

He is also the co-founder of the major polling company YouGov.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi arriving in Downing Street, London for a Cabinet meeting
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi arriving in Downing Street, London for a Cabinet meeting

For many, it is journeys like this which exemplify the essential conservative ethos, that with hard work and a good character, you can achieve anything.

Britain has never had an ethnic minority person as the Prime Minister, let alone a leader of any of the major parties. However, in 2019, Boris Johnson did select the most ethnically diverse Cabinet in British history.

According to research by the think tank British Future this year, 84% of Britons were comfortable with an ethnic minority Prime Minister succeeding Boris Johnson, compared to only 10% saying it would be a negative development.

The poll also found that 26% of people were “positive” about the prospect and 58% did not think a PM’s ethnicity was relevant.

Research published in the journal Frontiers in Sociology in 2019 found Britain is one of the least racist countries in Europe despite Brexit.

Becoming the first ethnic minority Prime Minister would undoubtedly be a significant achievement. But, with the cost-of-living crisis squeezing families across the nation, most people will be judging candidates not by their identity category, but to what extent they provide meaningful solutions to the problems we face today.

As we say, may the best person win.