Unease over prospect of non-white PM at No 10

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One in three Britons feels “uncomfortable” about the prospect of having an ethnic minority prime minister, according to new research.

A third (34 per cent) of the British public registered varying levels of discomfort at the thought of coming into contact with an ethnic minority head of government – practically the same number that said they felt comfortable (35 per cent), new data from YouGov shows.

One in five (20 per cent) said an ethnic minority prime minister made no difference, saying they were neither comfortable nor uncomfortable.

The survey, conducted on behalf of Demos and Birkbeck College and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, looks at responses to ethnic change in Britain. It asked a total of 1,869 respondents to describe their level of comfort – from very comfortable to very uncomfortable – at being confronted with people from ethnic minorities in certain roles and reveals widespread unease at non-whites filling various positions.

Concern over a non-white prime minister is strongest among Ukip supporters, with almost six in ten (59 per cent) of the party’s backers saying they are “uncomfortable” with the idea; 45 per cent said they are “very uncomfortable”.

More than four in ten (42 per cent) people who plan to vote Conservative said a non-white PM was an “uncomfortable” prospect, compared with nearly three in ten (28 per cent) Labour supporters and one in four (25 per cent) Liberal Democrats.

The findings show a greater number of Conservative and Ukip supporters struggling with the notion. Just one in three (33 per cent) Conservatives and one in seven (14 per cent) Ukip backers said they were comfortable with the prospect compared with almost half (47 per cent) of Liberal Democrats and over four in ten (43 per cent) prospective Labour voters.