Noah, 38, claimed in his show monologue on Wednesday that Sunak, also the U.K.’s youngest elected prime minister in over 200 years, faced “racist backlash” and xenophobia – something that several people, including members of the U.K. government, denied.
“Watching the story of Rishi Sunak becoming England’s first prime minister of color, of Indian descent, of all these things and then seeing the backlash is one of the more telling things about how people view the role that they or their people have played in history,” Noah said.
“And what I mean by that is this: You hear a lot of the people saying, ‘Oh, they’re taking over — now the Indians are going to take over Great Britain,’ and, ‘What’s next?’ And I always find myself going, ‘So what? What are you afraid of?”‘
It was unclear what racist backlash Noah was specifically referring to in his monologue. However, a recent Twitter video about a “racist caller” that was posted by radio station “Leading Britain’s Conversation” went viral this week, garnering over 3.8 million views and 40,000 likes. The caller criticized Sunak and claimed he was not British enough for the position.
“Rishi’s not even British, in most people’s opinion. He’s got American allegiance. His family’s American,” the caller said. “They’re Indian business people. He’ll go live in America, no doubt. He doesn’t love England like Boris [Johnson] does.”
In a statement to The Telegraph, a Downing Street spokesperson claimed that Sunak does not think the U.K. is a racist country. He also mentioned the House of Commons’ positive response to Sunak’s appointment. “But you heard the words in the House [of Commons] on Wednesday with regard to the [appointment of the] prime minister,” the spokesperson said.
“This is very misunderstood misreporting from America, turning a one to three per cent online niche into a British social norm,” Sunder Katwala, director of think tank British Future, told The Telegraph.
Several Twitter users also slammed Noah’s monologue, including former Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid, claiming that what “The Daily Show” host said was “simply wrong.”
“A narrative catered to his audience, at a cost of being completely detached from reality,” Javid wrote. “Britain is the most successful multiracial democracy on earth and proud of this historic achievement.”
Mike Galsworthy, the founder of Scientists for EU, pointed out that people in the U.K. have been celebrating Sunak’s appointment and that the only major backlash he has so far received was from the LBC caller.
Born in Hampshire, England, to immigrant parents of Indian descent, Sunak was appointed on Tuesday. He took over the position from Liz Truss, who resigned after serving as the U.K.’s prime minister for 44 days, making her the shortest-serving prime minister in British history.