Kemi Badenoch has argued that “silly things like pronouns” are distracting from core problems like the rise of China.
Badenoch, who serves as both secretary of state for business and trade and equalities minister, made the comments at the conference of the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship, which has brought together right-wing figures from across the world for a three-day event to discuss the direction of conservatism.
She also said the government is challenging “activist groups” like Stonewall after it got on the “wrong track on gender ideology”.
She said the government had got on the “wrong track on gender ideology” over the past decade by outsourcing policy-making to the charity.
She insisted that the government is doing much more to “challenge activist groups that take over institutions”.
She said: “There is an inflexion point coming and we need to be very focused and figure out how we are going to get ourselves into a good place.
“And that means not being distracted by all sorts of silly things like pronouns and what critical race theory is saying and measuring people’s skin colour and so on.”
“All of these things are distractions and whenever I see too much invested in those sorts of things it means that companies and individuals are not dealing with their core purposes and that is why I am sceptical about so many of those things.”
Badenoch also said at the conference in London, according to a Telegraph report: “I think we should take a step back and look at how we got here and this is where I think the Government does need to do a little bit more.
“And it’s about challenging activist groups that take over institutions. … We started going on the wrong track on gender ideology because we allowed other people to start telling us what to do.
“Ideas came from the leftist part of academia, feeding into particular charities – Stonewall is the best example of this but they’re not the only one – where they started advising government, saying this is what you need to do in order to serve a particular community.
“And then it over-reached and started giving people legal advice, or advice that was certainly different from what the Equality Act said.”
She added: “Government needs to be more confident in itself rather than asking other people to mark our homework and wanting to be on Stonewall’s top employers list, that’s when things start to go wrong.
“I think we were able to turn the tide once we stopped being influenced by people who had an agenda, pretending to be neutral, pretending to be charities rather than activists.”