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Yousaf ‘astonished’ as Tory MP says alleged racist donor comments are ‘trivia’

The First Minister said he was “astonished” that a Conservative minister dismissed an alleged racist comment made by a party donor as “trivia”.

On Wednesday, Kemi Badenoch, Conservative MP for Saffron Walden and Business and Trade Secretary, said comments allegedly made by Tory donor Frank Hester about Diane Abbott MP had been forgiven.

Mr Hester had allegedly said Ms Abbott, an independent MP, made him “want to hate all black women” and that she “should be shot”.

Speaking from the House of Commons, Ms Badenoch said: “He has apologised for his comments, we have welcomed his apology and we are drawing a line under it because we’re focused on what matters to the people of this country.

“I had letters last week of people telling me that we were wasting time focusing on issues that were not relevant to them.

Kemi Badenoch
Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch, who said Frank Hester’s comments were ‘trivia’ (Jordan Pettit/PA)

“We need to focus on what matters to the British people.”

She also said the comments made by Mr Hester were “trivia”.

On Wednesday night, First Minister Humza Yousaf spoke on ITV show Peston – where he told host Robert Peston that he was “astonished” at the MP’s reaction to Mr Hester’s comments.

Mr Yousaf brought up two unnamed MPs who have been killed in recent years, likely alluding to Labour MP Jo Cox, who was shot and stabbed to death in 2016, and Conservative MP Sir David Amess, who was stabbed several times to death in 2021.

Mr Peston asked the First Minister: “(Kemi Badenoch) said the Hester row was trivial. How do you react to that?

Frank Hester apology
Frank Hester OBE speaking at a Commonwealth Business Forum event in Kigali, Rwanda. (Chogm Rwanda 2022/YouTube/PA)

Mr Yousaf replied: “I was astonished when I heard that.

“How you can describe somebody saying that a black female MP should be shot as trivial, at a time of course where unfortunately we’ve seen two MPs killed in recent years, does not make any sense to me, particularly of course as Kemi had came out a couple of days before that and rightly in my opinion called out the remarks by Hester as racist.

“I think as people of colour who are in senior positions of government and senior positions in public life, we’ve got two choices – we can either reach down and give other people our hand and pull them up with us or we can pull the ladder up behind us.

“And I think those are the choices that we have to make, and in my whole political career, including in the last year as FM, I’ve tried my best to try to bring people up with me, to try to support other people of colour.”