British Chancellor Rishi Sunak spoke today about the racial abuse he suffered as a child in Britain, but stressed that the country has made tremendous progress over time.
The UK-born finance minister of Indian descent announced that the abuse felt much worse in the presence of his younger siblings when asked to comment on further extreme right-wing protests and protests against racism over the weekend in London.
"Something like that happens on my own, it's difficult enough, but when I had my younger brother and younger sister with me at the time, it was particularly annoying. I wanted to protect them from it," he told Sky News when he was his experience of racist abuse was asked.
"It may just be words, but it stings in a way that other things don't … There's something (racist abuse) about it that hits you to the core," he said.
The minister stressed that violent clashes, as seen in some London protests on Saturday, were "both shocking and disgusting" and that those responsible should face severe legal consequences.
He said: "This has always been an open and tolerant country, and what we saw yesterday was not that. There will always be a small minority that maintains prejudice and is actually racist, but that is not the description that I have overall would attribute our country.
"I think there has been tremendous progress in our country and society when I think back to when my grandparents arrived when I was growing up."
Mr Sunak, who leads the UK's economic response to the coronavirus pandemic, encouraged people to support the reopening of the country's main streets from Monday, unless major retail stores are allowed to reopen under Covid-safe conditions. The minister said the government was reviewing the current two-meter social distance standard to further support businesses.
"People need to have confidence that it is safe … and I can give that assurance," he said of the next phase of easing the UK's blockade from Monday.
"The Prime Minister has introduced a comprehensive review of the two-meter rule. We are reviewing everything … I can understand very well the positive effects this will have on companies if they can open," he said.
The senior cabinet minister again admitted "harshness" as steps are being taken to resume business after months of being banned from the deadly virus that has claimed over 41,000 lives in Britain.
"I think first and foremost we have to reopen our economy safely and slowly, and that is the most important thing to secure as many of these jobs as possible. But if I look forward to it, I have to admit that there will be difficulties People will lose their jobs, "he said.
"I want to make sure that we have the level of support for them, whether it's skills or other support to help them get back to work. I want to make sure that companies are encouraged to employ people." , he added.