Bank of England criticised for ignoring calls for a banknote with a brown or black Briton
By Barfi Culture Team
19th February 2019

In 400 years, no person of colour has ever appeared on a note issued by the Bank of England.

A campaign led Zehra Zaidi and Patrick Vernon OBE wanted to change that. They have been lobbying the BoE Governor Mark Carney to have the next banknote include an ethnic minority face.

The campaign was backed by various MPs including Treasury secretary Robert Jenrick MP, who wrote to Carney saying: "Bank notes are symbols of identity and project our country and values to the world, so they should reflect all of our people, our history and our future as a great open and diverse nation."

A letter signed by MPs from different political parties also urged the Bank of England to act. Signatories included Diane Abbott MP and Lib Dem leader Vince Cable.

The Governor said the Bank of England took its commitment to diversity "very seriously". But campaigners say this was simply not reflected in the process.

Instead, for the new £50 note, a new science face is set to replace an existing scientist.

Campaigners say scientists have already appeared several times in the past (Charles Darwin, George Stephenson, Michael Faraday, Sir Christopher Wren, Sir Isaac Newton)

"It is disappointing that the Bank of England will not consider the first ethnic minority for a British banknote. We need to remedy historical injustices for today’s diverse British population, not kick this into the long grass," said Zehra Zaidi.

Patrick Vernon OBE also lashed out, saying: "Compare to other national or federal banks around the world it reminds us yet again that we are not valued or respected and more evidence to future generation that our history and contribution is hidden or suppressed by this major institution."

Like most institutions, the Bank of England values diversity in name but not in its actions.

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