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UK becoming more ethnically segregated: Chuka Umunna

Published 23/05/2016

Mr Umunna spoke ahead of a meeting of the The All-Party Group on Social Inclusion
Mr Umunna spoke ahead of a meeting of the The All-Party Group on Social Inclusion

Britain is becoming more ethnically segregated, with widening "cracks in our communities", because lessons have not been learned from race riots 15 years ago, an MP has warned.

Former Labour shadow minister Chuka Umunna criticised the immigration debate for focusing "almost exclusively on numbers, with too little attention paid to how we integrate people once they settle here".

The Streatham MP repeated a warning he made in March that people may seek "Donald Trump style" solutions if politicians did not act first.

He spoke ahead of a meeting of the The All-Party Group on Social Inclusion, which he launched in March with a cross-party plan to improve social integration. Its members include the prominent Conservative backbencher David Davis.

Mr Umunna, who chairs the group, warned that not enough action had been taken following violent disorder in Oldham, Bradford and Burnley in 2001 and the subsequent Cantle report into their causes.

Mr Umunna said: "Fifteen years after the Cantle Report, lessons have still to be learnt and cracks in our communities have continued to grow.

"In fact, Britain has become a more ethnically segregated as a nation as immigration has risen over the last decades. This illustrates the problem with a national debate on immigration that focuses almost exclusively on numbers, with too little attention paid to how we integrate people once they settle here.

"We're now at a crossroads. If we don't take action to bridge the divides in our communities, they will grow into gulfs and there is a real risk the British people could respond, not by seeking to solve our problems together, but by seeking to blame one another and look to 'Donald Trump style' solutions."

Those due to address the group on Monday include Professor Ted Cantle, whose December 2001 report exposed a "polarisation" in Britain that led to races leading parallel lives.

The former chief executive of Nottinghamshire City Council made 67 recommendations in areas such as housing, education, youth facilities and regeneration.

The group, whose members also include Home Affairs Committee chairman Keith Vaz, former Labour minister David Lammy and Tory peer Baroness Stroud, says it will also hear from Louise Casey, who is leading a review into integration for the Government.

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