London, June 13 (ANI): Britain's first female Muslim cabinet minister, Baroness Warsi, has suggested the time for "quotas" for candidates from minority groups has passed.
In an interview to The Times, 39-year-old Warsi said her party would focus on other schemes, such as student internships, to get more young black and Asian people involved in Tory politics.
"Rather than having a panic moment and saying, 'We need to find three black or brown MPs to fit the quota', we have got time now to say let's create a space for people to come in; let's make the party a welcoming place," she said.
Since the general election, the number of female Conservative MPs has risen from 18 to 49 and that of ethnic minority members from two to 11. This was mainly because of a special list of candidates, composed largely of women and ethnic minorities, and the imposition of shortlists on local parties restricting the number of white men.
Warsi said the process of selecting candidates would be reviewed ahead of the next general election.
"We want to create the right environment for good candidates rather than creating all-black shortlists," she explained.
She said: "We need to move towards a mainstreaming of minority ethnic and religious groups. We need to move towards a place where we don't treat them as specific interest groups."
Warsi, who is divorced from her first husband whom she wed in an arranged marriage when she was 19, insisted her Muslim faith did not inform her political views.
"I am a practical politician and quite pragmatic," she said. "My politics are not rooted in an ideological belief based on a religious text."
She has a daughter from her first marriage and, having recently remarried, four stepchildren. "They are great campaigners, useful for leafleting," she joked.
Despite her workload, she would consider having another child. "Have half a dozen?" she said. "That would be a really good number, wouldn't it? Never rule it out." (ANI)