Chancellor Rishi Sunak has revealed he was racially abused as a child but was “particularly upset” when it happened in front of his younger siblings.
The 40-year-old politician, whose grandparents were immigrants from India, said that verbal abuse had “stung” the most.
He told Sky News: “The things that stung me the most are when I’ve been with my younger siblings, when I was younger.
“It’s one thing when they’re happening to you on your own, it’s difficult enough, but when I had my younger brother and sister with me, it was particularly upsetting. I didn’t want them to have to deal with it, I wanted to protect them from it. It may just be words but actually they sting in a way that other things don’t.
“People call you different names for different reasons but there’s something about that that cuts to your core.”
Mr Sunak, who was born in Southampton to a GP father GP and pharmacist mother, was educated at the prestigious Winchester College – an all-boys’ boarding school – where he was head boy.
The Chancellor said the violent clashes in London on Saturday were “shocking and disgusting”.
He added: “there’s more to do” but “real change doesn’t come from wanton destruction or violence”.
It came as David Lammy called on the Government to “deal with the substance” around racism and not focus on the ongoing row over statues.
The shadow justice secretary suggested the dispute over historical figures was “a bit of deflection” when ministers should focus on urgent action to address deep inequalities that remain in the UK.
Labour is desperate to avoid being drawn into a culture war it could ultimately lose and to instead shift attention back to the serious issues at play.
Mr Lammy told the BBC: “This looks to me like a bit of deflection. Let’s get to the action. Let’s have some substance. Let’s do something about the historic injustice that still exists in our country.”
He also urged ministers to move on from a “not helpful” dispute between Home Secretary Priti Patel and black, Asian and minority ethnic Labour MPs.
In response to a letter from the MPs, who accused Ms Patel of “gaslighting” them on racism, she said she would “not be silenced” about using her own Indian heritage to cast doubt on black communities’ experience of racism.
Mr Lammy, who did not sign the letter, said: “Priti and I are in a similar age group so I can well understand when she says that she was called a Paki – which was a horrible term which was very commonplace – how that would have felt at the time.
“But as I say, let’s deal with the substance.” He cited figures showing that just 1% of police officers are black and 1% of judges while 51% of those in young offender institutions are from black, Asian, or minority ethnic backgrounds.
“Those are the serious issues that people want the Government to deal with. Not statues, not Priti Patel, deal with the problems.” he said.
It came as the party took a tough approach to law and order and said it could consider plans to make attacking war memorials an offence punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Mr Lammy accused the Government of having “buried” recommendations from a report by Public Health England looking at the disproportionate toll Covid-19 has had on ethnic minority people.
“It’s horrifying that at the moment across this country it’s hard to be black or Asian and not know someone, or someone who knows someone, who has died.
“It’s a scandal if one week Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock say ‘Black Lives Matter’ and then we find out today that they buried part of the review that had the recommendations in it to do something about it.”