Baroness Warsi, Britain’s first Muslim Cabinet minister, will urge all minorities to “join in” with traditional British festivals.
In an interview with a Sunday newspaper ahead of her speech on integration, the peer added that hospitals and other public services should phase out the use of multilingual forms to help ethnic minorities integrate fully and that school should not employ classroom assistants who cannot speak English.
“Being brought up – before the politically correct brigade got going – on harvest festivals, maypoles, Nativity plays, Christmas carols and the Lord’s Prayer, made me much more sure about my own identity,” said Lady Warsi. “I didn’t feel it was all watered down to the lowest common denominator.”
The Conservative peer also discussed how she celebrated Christmas with her family and enjoyed carols. She insisted on sending out “proper, traditional” Christmas cards rather than “bland” multi-faith greetings. “Why not? White people celebrate Diwali and Eid,” she said. “And we all enjoy Bonfire Night.”
Lady Warsi, who was the Tory party chairman until September’s reshuffle, is now a senior minister combining a post in the Foreign Office with that of minister for faith and communities. She will be making her first major speech since taking up the role, setting out her views on integration in greater detail.
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More than 800,000 schoolchildren do not use English as their first language. The NHS and other public bodies spend £140 million annually translating documents into more than 100 languages.
Some public bodies believe human rights laws mean they are under a legal obligation to offer translation services. Lady Warsi, herself a lawyer, is expected to argue that this is incorrect.
The peer also urged Theresa May, the Home Secretary, to accelerate the banning of khat, the legal plant-based drug.
“We cannot say, \'Because it’s Somalian and Ethiopian boys who take this, it’s part of their recreational activity, hey-ho, we will just let them take it.’ We would not legitimise marijuana to please the Rasta community, so why do that with khat?” she said.