In an interview with The Associated Press, Umunna acknowledged there was a feeling in its former colonies that Britain has been less engaged than other partners such as China, Brazil and India.
“I think it’s fair to say that there is a perception that we’ve been a bit complacent and because of our historical ties have felt somehow that we don’t need to put as much effort in,” he said. “I want to be very clear and send out a very strong message to policymakers and business communities in all of the West African countries that the U.K. wants to do business.”
Back home, Umunna said he was focused on helping put the Labour Party back into power in the 2015 elections under party leader Ed Miliband — something he said the party was in a good position to accomplish.
Umunna said he left the law for politics “to achieve massive positive change” and that he was frustrated being in the opposition.
Though widely regarded as an up and coming force in the Labour Party, Umunna has received some recent negative press related to his online footprint. Last month Britain’s Daily Mail reported that on an invitation-only social networking website, Umunna complained in 2006 that clubs in London’s West End “seem to be full of trash and C-list wannabes, while other places that should know better opt for the cheesy vibe.” The paper said the comments undercut the lawmaker’s “man of the people” image.
Umunna has also been criticized in the press for editing his own Wikipedia page to include references to “the U.K.’s Barack Obama,” something his office has said he has no recollection of doing. Prime Minister David Cameron made light of the story on May 8 in the House of Commons, saying, “Now he has been famously comparing himself to Barack Obama. As he would put it, can we change our Wikipedia entry? Yes we can.” In BBC footage of the remarks, Umunna rolls his eyes in response.
“With respect to the nightclub comment I’ve never claimed to be a saint,” Umunna told AP. “My generation, we’re probably the first generation to actually have grown up online and to have social media accounts . We all say stupid things in our younger years and I’m no different from anyone else, and I regret what I said and I can’t really say more than that.”
He declined to be specific when discussing his political ambitions. “I’m not particularly interested in positions and in my own personal position in as much as I am ambitious to actually do things and make a difference,” he said. “I’m ambitious in my politics and the kind of society I’d like us to build.”