Delivering a statement in the Commons on Tuesday afternoon, she defended the findings and dismissed criticism by campaigners, experts and the Labour Party as “wilful misrepresentations” and “bad faith attempts to undermine the report’s credibility”.
The minister thanked the commission for their thoughtful, balanced and evidence-based findings and analysis of which she’s “proud”.
Referring to intense backlash following the report’s publication, Ms Badenoch said commissioners have received death threats and abuse.
“It is wrong to accuse those who argue for a different approach as being racism deniers or race traitors. It’s even more irresponsible, dangerously so, to called ethnic minority people racial slurs like Uncle Toms, coconuts, house slaves or house negroes for daring to think differently,” she said.
“Such deplorable tactics are designed to intimidate ethnic people from their right to express legitimate views.”
Marsha De Cordova, the shadow equalities minister, said the report is a “shoddy point scoring polemic”.
“Following the Black Lives Matter movement, this Commission had an opportunity to meaningfully engage with structural inequality and racism in the UK,” she said.
“Instead, they published incoherent, divisive and offensive material that appears to glorify slavery, downplay the role institutional and structural racism and blame ethnic minorities for their own disadvantage.
“If left unchallenged, this report will undo decades of progress made towards race equality in the UK.”
In light of media reports in which commissioners allege that Downing Street rewrote parts of the Sewell report, Ms Cordova asked the equalities minister to clarify wrote the report.
Ms Badenoch dismissed these allegations as “false”.
This comes after UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent yesterday published scathing criticism of the race commission’s findings that there is no evidence of systemic racism in the UK.
The group said the report “cites dubious evidence”, adding:
“This attempt to normalise white supremacy despite considerable research and evidence of institutional racism is an unfortunate sidestepping of the opportunity to acknowledge the atrocities of the past and the contributions of all in order to move forward.
”It has urged the Government to reject the findings and called for the Commission to be “disbanded or reconstituted”.
The Government will not be rejecting the report and will now consider it in detail to assess the next steps for future policy.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has established a new inter-ministerial group to review the recommendations to “ensure action is taken to continue progress to create a fairer society” and the Government will produce a response to the report this summer, Ms Badenoch announced.
The equalities minister will provide strategic direction and the group will be chaired by Michael Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
“Let me assure the House that it will be ambitious about tackling negative disparities where they persist and building on successes,” Ms Badenoch added.
“And it will play a significant part in this government’s mission to level up and unite the country and ensure equality and opportunity for all, whatever your race, ethnicity or socio-economic background.”
She went on to answer a total of 28 questions about the Race Commission’s work from MPs including Dawn Butler, Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy.
When Ms Ribeiro-Addy questioned why the government plans to push forward with the report when it’s so widely contested, the equalities minister told the Streatham MP that if she “reads beyond The Guardian and perhaps statements on The Morning Star, she will realise that the report has been welcomed by many organisations.”
Responding to Ms Badenoch’s speech in the Commons, Black Lives Matter UK said it “signals that the government is embarking on a full-scale campaign to silence criticism, and discredit any dissenting voices”.
A spokesperson said: “It is also notable that Badenoch supported the report’s convoluted attempts to disentangle race from class – to ultimately argue that racism is less prevalent than it truly is.
“BLM UK believes that race and class cannot be separated like this – the fact that nearly half of Black and minority ethnic households live in poverty in the UK is not a statistical coincidence; it is clear evidence that structural racism is still rife in this country.
“The Equalities Minister’s choice to double down on the report’s findings, in the face of widespread uproar from anti-racists, only confirms our view that the report was not intended to interrogate structural racism, but instead closer resembles a form of propaganda.”