The Government “can and must” do more to address racial inequality in society, former chancellor Sajid Javid has said.
Writing in The Sunday Times, Mr Javid said only the Prime Minister was capable of “driving real change”, adding the UK risked being “complacent” about its claims to be a tolerant society.
It comes as thousands of people took part in Black Lives Matter (BLM) demonstrations across the country on Saturday following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, with more demonstrations planned in London, Bristol, Glasgow and Edinburgh on Sunday.
Mr Javid, who also previously served as home secretary, said the UK must “not pretend” that it does not have “substantial obstacles” to overcome in regard to integration and opportunity.
“There are still parts of society that are more concerned about the status quo than justice and humanity,” he wrote.
The 50-year-old Conservative MP for Bromsgrove said racism can occur anywhere in the world, adding that a “new ambition” was needed to “break down barriers” in Britain.
“The Government can and must do more to address racial inequalities in our society,” Mr Javid wrote.
“As with all large-scale, systematic challenges, only the Prime Minister is capable of driving real change – and I know he cares deeply.”
He said there was a “greater disproportionality” of black people in prisons in the UK than in the US, and that while abuse directed at officers was unacceptable, the police service “still has a way to go”.
However, he said Britain was the “most successful multi-ethnic democracy in the world”.
Mr Javid said when he was younger, he had been unable to get a job in the City “because of my class and the colour of my skin”, and instead moved to New York in his 20s.
Aged 25, he became a vice president at Chase Manhattan Bank, before later moving to Deutsche Bank in London.
Protests have been held across the UK and the US in response to the death of Mr Floyd, 46, who died after a white officer held him down by pressing a knee into his neck on May 25.