BARRISTER Jolyon Maugham quizzed Rishi Sunak in a now-deleted tweet on attitudes to race within the Conservative party.

In a deleted reply to Sunak’s leadership bid on Friday 8 July, he asked, “Do you think the members of your Party are ready to select a brown man, Rishi?”.

The National:

His tweet sparked debate on Twitter. Sunder Katwala, director of the think tank British Future stated in a thread in response to the tweet:

“Jolyon Maugham should not have posted this. I am glad he has deleted it. This kind of "imputed prejudice" (I'm not racist but I fear *they* are) was a v important barrier to minority voice & representation in the 80s & 90s. It has surely been increasingly proved wrong post-2010.”

However, writer Nels Abbey “totally and disrespectfully” disagreed with Katwala’s take, stating:

“There's nothing wrong whatsoever with what Jolyon Maugham posted. Asking a black or brown representative of the party of the Rwanda plan if said blatantly racist party would elect a them [sic] as leader is a fair & potentially anti-racist question.”

Abbey continued to argue that racist movements in the US and UK “now use Black and Brown people to further their agenda”, stating that “this is exactly how Boris Johnson played us for fools and used Priti Patel to push through racist policies”.


Maughan later posted a clarification about his now-deleted initial tweet, stating: “My point was, I want, we should all want, greater representation of people of colour leading all political parties. But it's not an issue particular to the Conservative Party.”

He later defended his initial position in a tweet posted on Saturday July 9, stating he was “taking no lectures” on racism from parliamentarians from the Conservative party, referencing numerous actions taken by them as justification. 

These included Boris Johnson’s racist description of Black people as “piccaninnies”, the introduction of the Nationality and Borders act, the introduction of Voter ID which he stated disenfranchised people of colour from the voting process, and the “gaslighting” of survivors from the Windrush generation, amongst various other examples. 


However, Maugham also conceded that issues of race within politics was not exclusive to the Conservative party. 

In a response to the point posed to him that “there are more people of colour in the Cabinet than the Shadow Cabinet”, and that Labour have never had a female leader, Maugham replied that this was a fair point, and that while representation is not a “proxy for fair engagement”, that “Labour’s record on representation is piss poor and it needs to do much better”.

In Scotland, 6 out of 129 MSPs are from minority ethnic backgrounds: two each from SNP, Labour and the Conservatives. This makes up 4.5% of the Scottish Parliament. Scotland has an estimated minority ethnic population of between 4 and 5%.

READ MORE: Sheku Bayoh's sister says Scotland is a racist country

Last year, the first women of colour were elected to the Scottish Parliament in its 22 year history, with Kaukab Stewart from the SNP and Pam Gosal of the Conservative Party elected in post.

However, “progress cannot be taken for granted”, said consultant and campaigner Talat Yaqoob, who pointed out in a statement to Holyrood magazine in 2021 that, “We still have many communities including black communities who have never had visible representation in our parliament, so there is a long way to go yet.”

Former chancellor Rishi Sunak has formally announced he is running to replace Boris Johnson as Conservative leader.

One of the favourites to replace Johnson, who is set to remain in Number 10 until the autumn, Sunak launched his campaign video with the hashtag #Ready4Rishi.