Diversity training across government departments is “riddled with left-wing views”, claims Suella Braverman.
The attorney general says she is “all for a diverse workforce… meritocracy [and] inclusion”, but tells Sky News there has been a “takeover by HR teams [and] campaign groups” in the civil service, which has “propagated a political ideology when it comes to identity politics”.
She is backing plans from Conservative leadership contender Liz Truss to scrap the diversity and inclusion roles in Whitehall, which the foreign secretary claims will save £12m a year.
The policy was part of the candidate’s plan to “wage war on Whitehall waste” announced earlier this week, which led to a huge U-turn on how to save £8.8bn on public sector pay.
Politics Hub: Sunak and Truss prepare for Sky News Battle for Number 10 leadership special
Ms Truss had wanted to introduce regional pay boards to set salaries dependent on where people lived, but it sparked fury from Tory MPs worried it could hit the likes of nurses, teachers and police officers in less affluent areas.
Less than 24 hours after the plan was announced, Team Truss scrapped the regional element, but indicated they would be sticking with other parts, including the removal of these Civil Service roles.
Ms Braverman – who ran for the leadership herself, but got behind Ms Truss after she was knocked out – says there has been “thousands of hours” of diversity and inclusion training within government departments at “a huge cost to the tax payer”.
“It’s been divisive, not inclusive,” she told Sky News. “It’s been patronising, not empowering.
“It’s based on an assumption that me as an ethnic Asian woman from working class roots must be a victim, necessarily oppressed. That’s a misassumption. And I think it creates division.
“It’s tearing up society, breaking down the fabric of our country. And I think it’s a waste of money.”
The attorney general also claimed the way it is taught is “indoctrinating”, adding: “The training materials that I’ve seen used in the civil service is riddled with left-wing views on race and gender, things like white privilege.
“Civil servants are taught about micro-aggressions. They’re taught about white fragility. They’re taught about how to be a straight ally. I don’t think those are objectively impartial when it comes to politics.
“And I don’t think they are good value for money. And I don’t think ultimately that’s what taxpayers want their civil servants or their government lawyers to be spending their time on.”
Ms Braverman denied her views – and Ms Truss’s policy – were “anti-woke”, instead saying they were “against identity politics and the divisive nature of all of this”.
But she also admitted it was not the “biggest issue of the day”.
“It comes to civil service efficiency, it comes to government delivery,” she says.
“And if we can reduce the cost of civil service to reduce the cost of government, that’s only not only good for the economy and public spending, it’s also really good for efficiency and public service delivery for individuals.”
The issue may well arise at Sky News’ Battle for Number 10 programme at 8pm tonight.
Ms Truss and Mr Sunak will take part in back-to-back questioning from a live studio audience at Sky Studios in west London – made up of undecided Conservative Party members – before facing an in-depth interview with Kay Burley.
‘The Battle for Number 10′ will be broadcast live for 90 minutes and for free on Sky News channel 501, on Freeview 233, on Sky Showcase channel 106, and across Sky News’ digital channels.