emi Badenoch has warned that advocates of identity politics are seeking to “re-racialise” society.
The Business Secretary claimed Labour wanted to “bend the knee before this altar of intolerance”, and invoked the words of American civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King.
Ms Badenoch, who is also the minister for women and equalities, told the Conservative Party conference that “Labour didn’t like” the Government’s Inclusive Britain Report.
The report found many people from ethnic minority backgrounds did not feel the Government was “on their side”, but was criticised for not acknowledging structural racism in the UK.
Hitting out at Labour, Ms Badenoch said: “They want young people to believe a narrative of hopelessness, a narrative that says there is no point in trying because British society is against you and you are better off asking for reparations, a narrative that tells children like mine that the odds are stacked against them.
“I tell my children that this is the best country in the world to be black because it is a country that sees people and not labels.”
She added: “Conservatives want young people to be proud of their country when others want them to be ashamed.
Let Labour bend the knee before this altar of intolerance, we will keep building a country that is in every way stronger and fairer for all
“It wasn’t a tough decision for us to reject the divisive agenda of critical race theory. We believe, as Martin Luther King once said, people should be judged by the content of their character, not the colour of their skin.
“And if that puts us in conflict with those who would re-racialise society, who would put up the divisions that have been torn down, then conference, all I can say is bring it on.
“Let Labour bend the knee before this altar of intolerance, we will keep building a country that is in every way stronger and fairer for all.”
Elsewhere in her speech, Ms Badenoch praised the Prime Minister for taking “brave” decisions to delay key net-zero commitments, including moving the deadline for the sale of new petrol and diesel cars to 2035.
She compared Rishi Sunak with Sir Keir Starmer, and sought to discredit the Labour leader over his past support for remain in the Brexit referendum.
“The people who tell you that Brexit is the cause of every problem, do so because they think the answer to everything is the EU,” she said.
Ms Badenoch added: “Listen to what Keir Starmer says … His answer to the global challenges we face is to tax more, regulate more and ask the EU what to do next.”
She went on: “Our Prime Minister is different. He set out his five priorities in black and white. He refused to cave to the public sector union barons, or dance to the tune of the metropolitan bubble on energy policy.
“What he did two weeks ago was brave, shattering a lazy consensus about the costs of net zero.”
Ms Badenoch later said: “Next week, Labour will tell the country that it is ready for government. But ladies and gentlemen, let me ask you this, if Labour MPs can’t tell us what a woman is, what else aren’t they telling us?”