'I will not be silenced' says Priti Patel as she gaslights and defends her indifference towards BAME

More than 30 Labour MPs from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds have accused the home secretary, Priti Patel, of trying to silence debate by “using” her own experience of racism.

This comes after an exchange between Ms Patel and Labour’s Florence Eshalomi about the Black Lives Matter movement, in which the home secretary said she would not take lectures from the opposition when it comes to racism, sexism, and tolerance for social justice.

In a Commons debate on Monday, the Labour MP Florence Eshalomi suggested the government did not understand the anger felt by people and the desire to tackle structural racism.

Patel told parliament how she was “frequently called a Paki in the playground” as a child and had been racially abused in the streets.

Patel said she was “really, really saddened” by Eshalomi’s criticism and added: “It must have been a very different home secretary who as a child was frequently called a Paki in the playground, a very different home secretary who was racially abused in the streets or even advised to drop her surname and use her husband’s in order to advance her career.

In a letter, a group of more than 30 Labour MPs led by Naz Shahhome, told the home secretary that they were disappointed at the way she used her heritage and experiences of racism to gaslight the very real racism faced by black people and communities across the UK.

They said: “We all have our personal stories of the racism that we have faced, whether defined by the colour of our skin or the faith we choose to believe in."

They added: “Our shared experiences allow us to feel the pain that communities feel, when they face racism, they allow us to show solidarity towards a common cause; they do not allow us to define, silence or impede on the feelings that other minority groups may face.”

The group – which included former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, Clive Lewis and Rosena Allin-Khan – said the cabinet minister should consider the impact of her words on Black communities “trying to highlight their voices against racism”.

But on Twitter, Patel said she was “sad” to have received the letter.

“I will not be silenced by @UKLabour MPs who continue to dismiss the contributions of those who don’t conform to their view of how ethnic minorities should behave,” she wrote.

The Labour MPs in the letter asked that Patel consider and reflect on her words, and to consider the impact it had towards black communities in the UK trying to highlight their voices against racism.

“Rest assured that Asian and ethnic minority colleagues on this side of the house will not use their experiences to silence our black colleagues, but will use our shared experiences to stand behind them and support their voices to lead us on standing up against the distinct form of racism black communities in the UK and across the globe face,” they added.